What is Procurement’s Biggest Challenge? And a SpendLead Webinar ….

Thanks to Stephen Ashcroft of AECOM for pointing out survey findings from 500 procurement professionals that were published by DeltaBid. He was depressed to find that the results suggested that the biggest issue facing procurement people is ... suppliers?

“The top challenge, concludes the survey results – of procurement professionals – is Suppliers; namely finding suppliers, managing relationship with suppliers, evaluating suppliers and selecting the best one. Imagine, for a minute if a lawyer informed you that their biggest challenge was drafting a contract – or a footballer that their biggest challenge was kicking a ball. You get the idea – you can see why I’m a little bit blue”.

Ashcroft is correct in that “suppliers” does sound a little obvious as our biggest challenge! And in the sense that virtually everything procurement does is connected with suppliers in some way, it is not clear what that particular finding really tells us. He goes on to talk about attracting talent, which he says is the “number one action of procurement leaders”. We would not want to disagree with that comment, and his article is well worth a read. But let’s just go back to his suggestion that those basics around suppliers are perhaps not worthy of being our top priority.

We know what he means, but it is easy to forget that "finding suppliers", or finding the right, or the best suppliers – is both central to the procurement role and is harder in many cases than some might think. And it is suppliers who ultimately support our organisations to achieve their goals and drive competitive advantage: we must never forget that.

Finding the right suppliers might not be too difficult if you are dealing with a large well-established market and all you want to do is identify the handful of leading providers in that market (although obtaining real competitive advantage from your choice is still a challenge). But as soon as you go beyond that into smaller spend sub-categories, or different geographies, or you want to find more interesting and innovative firms, then things get tougher.

Google is an amazing tool for finding out who won the cricket County Championship in 1949, or reading 37 reviews of the new Beyoncé album. But it isn't actually much good when you want to find a really good supplier of industrial food colours and flavours in Chile, or a reliable cleaning company in Bratislava (or even Bradford). So the survey results should be music to the ears of a new wave of social media-influenced software platforms such as SpendLead that aim to help procurement people find suppliers, select and work with the best.

Being able to narrow that search and receive relevant information from a qualified group of suppliers (and vice versa if we are talking about the benefits for the sell side) should be very valuable – and perhaps help those struggling procurement folk identified by DeltaBid! And next Tuesday 24th at 6pm UK time (sorry, we know that's a bit late ...) Jason Busch, Spend Matters founder, and I will be discussing some of these issues in a 30-minute webinar  - The Sharing Economy And What It Means For Procurement And Social Networking

Join us for this discussion and learn how social approaches to procurement can enable you to:

  • Collaborate with colleagues and learn more about supply markets
  • Discover potential vendors, communicate with them in a controlled manner and get deeper insights into their business and offerings
  • Like, share and review suppliers to help construct a more solid supply and knowledge base

You can register here!

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