Procurement Transformation starts new conversations and sparks new controversies every day. Even laggard organizations have learned by now that a more strategic approach to procurement can and will pay off. Even the best, however, still struggle with the notion of 'transformed' purchasing team. What should the ideal Procurement department look like? How should they go about building it? The questions never stop there.
Since its founding, Source One has encouraged clients to transform their Procurement departments. We've not only participated in the conversation, but have helped to drive it. Though there's no single mold for a transformed Procurement function, we've helped countless clients define the term for themselves.
In the spirit of this ongoing dialogue, Source One's new whitepaper series collects insights and reflections from across Supply Management. Over the next few months, Procurement Transformation: Industry Perspectives will provide readers with a holistic look at what Procurement Transformation really means.
The first installment, "Procurement Transformation: Then & Now" was provided by Sourcing Strategies Group's Jim Baehr. Reflecting on his career in Supply Management, Baehr examines Procurement's evolution over the last three and a half decades. He suggests that our definition of Procurement Transformation has evolved alongside the function itself.
Baehr recently sat down with the Source One podcast to discuss his contribution and provide additional thoughts on Procurement Transformation.
Starting out in "purchasing," Baehr has witnessed the strategic maturation of Procurement firsthand. He's been fortunate enough to work alongside true supply chain visionaries and absorb their insight. He suggests that many of that era's thought leaders are still worth reading. Peter Kraljic and John Kotter, in particular, laid the foundation for today's conversations decades ago. Baehr notes that even the mass exodus of Procurement's baby boomers was discussed back in 2004. He lists Leonard and Swap's Deep Smarts as essential reading for anyone looking to bridge skills gaps and confidently enter Procurement's next era.
Today, he worries that the term Procurement Transformation is "misappropriated." He says, "The term Procurement Transformation speaks to looking out into the future - it's not change for the sake of change." Too often, he suggests, Procurement departments commit to implementing a new technology or refining their recruitment process and consider these changes a transformation. He warns organizations that losing sight of the big picture will lead transformations to ruin.
Nevertheless, Baehr remains hopeful. The incoming generation of Procurement talent enjoys access to cutting-edge tools and can call upon the sort of "deep smarts" that Leonard and Swap discuss. Having studied supply chain management in an academic setting, they're eager to prove themselves and learn from industry veterans.
He concludes, "I am optimistic about the future of supply management. I am optimistic about continued Procurement Transformation. I'm very optimistic that somewhere out there on the near horizon is something is going to help - one more time - revolutionize supply management, much like Kraljic did with his article back in 1983."
Listen to the full conversation today. If you liked "Procurement Transformation: Then & Now," don't forget to check out Part 2 next week.