How procurement can better engage the C-Suite post-pandemic

Rich Sains
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Procurement is having a moment. While globalisation and digital transformation have brought about rapid change in supply chains, COVID-19 accelerated and disrupted this process in equal measure. And the long tail of this – from fuel shortages to supply issues to talent challenges – has put procurement in the spotlight. And into the daily vernacular of the C-Suite.

Covid- 19 showed just how fragile supply chains are. Future-focused, agile organisations demand joined-up, data-led decision making when it comes to procurement, as they seek to find new ways to thrive in a landscape where uncertainty is the new normal. For procurement leaders, this means an opportunity to bring that cohesive, collaborative thinking that in turn, builds your long-term impact.

So as a procurement leader, how can you influence C-level thinking and demonstrate the value procurement brings to your business?

Re-imagining the role of procurement

Procurement has often been seen as a cost-cutting function, operating in a silo alongside other disciplines. As the supply chain gains in strategic importance, so CPOs and other procurement leaders become more visible. Today, procurement is rapidly emerging as a major enabler of senior decision-making and organisational strategy, bringing real value to the C-Suite.

Globally, COVID-19 has disrupted entire industries, upended supply lines and caused real pain to economic recovery, and the day-to-day functioning of businesses of all sizes. Supplier management is on the C-suite’s agenda like never before. From staying agile and competitive to diversifying the supply base, in terms of geography, size of supplier and even in-house production, supply chains are being reimagined.

And procurement is central to this, bringing expertise to re-designing innovative new structures that minimise risk and support sustainability over the long-term. All organisations need this thinking at the highest level at all times - it’s not about bringing procurement in times of crisis, rather ensuring you’re consistently engaged in decision-making.

Set a new vision for resilience

The pandemic showed – without much effort - just how vulnerable supply chains can be. So organisations are focusing on how they identify and mitigate these vulnerabilities, to improve resiliency.

This is the opportunity for organisations to totally rethink their supply chains: driving resilience without reducing competitiveness. This means knowing weaknesses and then taking meaningful steps to mitigate them. It requires removing many of the constraints they may have operated under in order to survive and set a vision for a better way, a leaner, more sustainable way that improves resilience and minimises risks for future disruptions. Because they’re guaranteed to happen. And procurement will need to respond when it does.

Leverage the data

Data analytics and other new technologies are key to helping organisations optimise their supply chains, creating greater efficiency and cost savings. A growing new procuretech ecosystem is leading innovation across procurement, with transformative data and analytics solutions delivering efficiencies and more sustainable processes. Complexity and change are two constants in today's global supply network - accurate real time information and predictive analytics are central to maximising opportunities and mitigating risks.

Procurement leaders should have this key information at their fingertips – many don’t.

Speak like a local

By their nature, the C-Suite care about functions that support immediate priorities. Which is why in the last 18 months there have been so many opportunities for procurement leaders to get closer to core business objectives and be instrumental in moving these forward.

By speaking the language of the C-suite, you can make procurement part of a long-term conversation. Take innovation – right now you can’t innovate without an agile supply chain. Equally, you can’t manage a supply chain without innovation. Showcasing your message in terms that your audience understands is where you can create real impact.

Great procurement offers organisations a clear competitive advantage – from agility to innovation, through to risk and sustainability. The last 18 months have shown us how integral procurement leadership is to resilience, by ensuring organisations adapt to crises quickly and effectively. Now is the time for procurement to be central to your organisation's strategy, for good.

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