Back in January, I wrote a lengthy blog with my ramblings on how I thought the year 2014 would shape up for the Procurement and Supply Chain industry. It's hard to believe that the year is already half-over, but I figured I'd take a look back at that article and see how my predictions were trending.  Read it here. After rereading my post, I'm pretty happy to report that I think I was pretty accurate with a lot of my predictions.

 Let's take a look:

  •  More qualified entry-level candidates with relevant degrees from both notable and local institutes of higher learning.
     - Okay, now on this one I might have been off. While universities definitely seem to have some great education programs in place, we (and many of our clients) have not yet experienced a big uptick in qualified fresh-out-of-university supply chain professionals. I do know that big companies with deep pockets are investing heavily in college recruitment, so it may simply be that they are grabbing the pick of the litter for now.
  •  We’ll see some existing professionals get weeded out from the place they've been hiding and either commit to improving their skill sets or finding a new career
     - I definitely see this happening. It seems that even though there is a lot of M&A going on in the corporate world, GOOD procurement and supply chain professionals are standing ground and avoiding layoffs, and in many cases actually receiving promotions. That's not so true for some of the people that still see their role as buying and or "running an RFP". As proof, we've seen a substantial increase in resumes from seemingly experienced folks; who after an quick interview, we can gauge that they simply have not kept up with a rapidly changing industry. Unfortunately for some of these folks (who used to carry big job titles and paychecks) they may have reached a point in their careers that they have to reevaluate their market- worth. Good news for everyone else though, its creating even more job openings.
  •  We’ll see other professionals rise to the challenge and demonstrate to their companies just how much they've been missing out by not listening to the “procurement people”
     - A little early to tell, but I've seen two trends. One, procurement groups are seemingly starting to receive bigger budgets for recruiting and staff augmentation. Two, many companies are asking for best-practices in reporting savings and supplier relationship management sustainability programs. In other words, companies are letting procurement spend more for human and electronic resources and they are looking for better ways to track their success and/or failures. The huge increase in director and higher level positions being created efforts should be testament enough to how companies are starting to see procurement groups as more important to their organizations.
  •  We’ll continue to see departments that have traditionally operated in a silo starting break down and ask procurement teams for help for the first time ever (I’m talking to you, IT, Marketing and HR)  
     - Well, this ones a mixed bag. While we've had the occasional department head reach out to us directly (outside of their own procurement teams), we aren't seeing a HUGE increase in this type of lead. However, we are starting to see a big increase in Executives, Finance Departments, and Procurement groups trying to get into those spend silos. In fact, we've recently seen some C-level executives say "enough is enough" and demanded that these traditionally sheltered spend owners engage the assistance of the procurement teams (whether internal or external). The funny thing is, that in some companies, these spend owners still have enough power to say no. We just had a situation where the head of Internal Audit requested reports from the media-buying team and the media-buying team flat out said no. I imagine, this type of behavior can't last forever.
  •  An increase in the adoption of consulting firms or BPO providers in supply chain
     - Definitely happening. Though, what we are seeing now is companies asking for on-demand bench resources. The days of fully outsourced procurement and sourcing groups seem to be coming to a close. We (and some of our competitors) are getting a LOT of calls from companies that don't want fully outsourced departments anymore, they want in-house resources and an expert partner to use as a bench for peak periods or supplemental support.
  •  An increase in the demand for third-party benchmarking data beyond the generic stuff that top 3 "analyst firms" produce
     - We're seeing a steady increase of people asking for third-party data. However, we are still educating customers about the traps and pitfalls that generic "magic" reports tend to have. In general, procurement groups want more information than they ever wanted before, and they are starting to recognize the different quality levels of that information. and finally
  •  We’ll probably see more mergers and acquisitions of supply chain software and consultancies as the big providers scramble to catch up to an industry that is moving much faster than they are.
     - For many of us, the Iasta buyout by Selectica came out of nowhere. But I suspect the 2nd half of the year is when most of these M&A announcements are going to happen.
 So, we are halfway through the year, anyone care to speculate how the rest of the year is going to shape up?
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William Dorn

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