The state of the purchasing portion of the supply chain is seemingly always in flux, as companies strive to stay on top of the developing trends locally, regionally, nationally and globally. The question, then, is how the tumult of the past several months has professionals within this corner of the industry feeling about the present and future of their work.

First and foremost, it seems as though thought leaders in the procurement sphere are increasingly seeing the need for digitization, according to a recent poll from SAP Ariba. Indeed, 84% of respondents say going digital will be critical for any company trying to improve how effective their purchasing efforts will be, but only 28% felt their own companies' standing in this regard was stronger than their competitors'.

When it comes to going digital, the professionals largely saw the need to automate more of their processes, improve the quality of the data their systems collect and analyze, the report said. They also emphasized the need to cut costs and improve regulatory compliance.

High-quality data is critical to everyone's supply chain success.High-quality data is critical to everyone's supply chain success.

Why it's important
Having to go digital and improve the quality of data they collect is increasingly apparent these days — 93% of industry leaders say they have run into difficulties stemming from inaccurate data received from suppliers, an industry survey from Tealbook found earlier this year. Of those professionals, more than half also said that's a problem for their organizations on a regular basis.

In fact, more than 4 in 5 respondents said they are not confident about the data they receive from suppliers, and this leads to a litany of problems, the report said. About 60% of orgs falling into this category says it takes them four days or more to fix bad data, resulting in missing deadlines, frayed client relations and financial losses. Companies in the survey said they spent about three weeks validating and onboarding suppliers overall.

The impact of coronavirus
Of course, the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of the supply chain in recent months cannot be understated, and companies may feel as though they have bigger fish to fry when it comes to organizational health, according to a Spend Matters report. However, many within the industry say supply chain continuity in these times is almost as high a priority as the health and safety of their employees, and that certainly includes identifying areas of risk with their partners.

The more companies can do to work with their suppliers — and internally — to make sure all data being shared between supply chain entities is fully accurate and up-to-date, the better off all involved will be going forward. This may take careful consideration of existing processes and stronger efforts to keep up with the speed of data, both under coronavirus constrictions and even after COVID. Such an effort may not be easy, but it is critical to becoming a better partner in the global supply chain.

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