New priorities set to reshape procurement

The revolution in procurement that has happened over the past few years is still ongoing. Sourcing leaders hoping to make further progress improving their departments' effectiveness and overall contributions to corporate success should therefore focus on elements of their operations that can still be improved in the immediate future. The end of 2017 has brought numerous analyses of how far the sector has come and where it should go next.

Becoming a 'procurement master'
"Procurement masters share a few key characteristics."
Recent Accenture Strategy research has a few potential objectives for sourcing leaders to target in the year ahead. The research organization identified a group of experts on the leading edge of the curve, composed of executives who deliver 15:1 return on investment. These procurement masters share a few key characteristics, which ambitious supply chain leaders can emulate.

For instance, high-performing procurement departments draw clear links between their operations and overall corporate financial results.

Establishing such a connection is a good way to stake a place among the other C-suite executives when it's time to set company strategy. When the rest of the company sees the sourcing department as an integrated part of the whole, rather than an isolated silo, procurement's relevance can rise.

Accenture Strategy added that procurement masters tend to lean so heavily into strategic operations through intelligent use of automation. The core functions of sourcing are easier to handle effectively when simple, transactional matters are managed via automated processes. Supply chain leaders with too many manual functions to handle may find competitors are making more progress than they are while doing significantly less hands-on transactional work.

Securing employees with new skills
No technological revolution can take shape without knowledgeable workers ready to adapt to the new style of doing business. According to the Korn Ferry Institute, supply chains will find themselves in need of the right personnel very soon. Buying software is a relatively easy action compared to searching for people who can make effective use of the new applications their leaders have purchased for them. Changes in acquisition and retention approaches may be necessary.

Once new supply chain team members are on the job, they'll need to acquire practical, real-world skills. Schneider Electric Chief Supply Chain Officer Annette Clayton told Korn Ferry decision-making is a major priority for new professionals. Today's procurement and sourcing environments move quickly, and the amount of data available can be severely limited. The supply chain employees who become the leaders of tomorrow will be able to use the information and technology on hand to direct their departments effectively.
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