Digital procurement: an overview of geographical differences
We surveyed 225 CPOs and procurement leaders in the UK, US and Germany for our research report, “Procurement 2025: Is digital transformation driving more effective procurement?”, conducted in collaboration with Cranfield University.
Our study explores where procurement functions are now, and where they are heading, particularly in terms of digital transformation, how businesses are using technology to enhance their processes, and the barriers to technology delivering the expected benefits.
There were some inevitable geographical variations in the responses from procurement leaders surveyed across the UK, US and Germany. Here we highlight some of those differences and offer insight into why this might be.
- 72% of procurement leaders strongly agree that investment in data visibility and automation will help improve bottom-line performance (above the total average of 65%)
“There are some recent examples of procurement teams in the UK investing in technology solutions to position themselves as sources of data and insight for the company as a whole, creating a pull for their services. This has undoubtedly been a factor in enabling more informed decision-making across the organisation and driving efficiencies in different areas.”
- More UK procurement leaders (55%) have segmented strategic suppliers based on standard criteria than their counterparts in the US (47%) and Germany (44%)
“Larger companies in the UK tend to know who they class as their strategic suppliers and why. However, fewer companies have mastered the art of a truly strategic supplier relationship. This is one that minimises operational and transactional discussions and maximises time spent developing two-way, mutually beneficial relationships to deliver greater levels of innovation and competitive advantage over the longer term. There’s still some work to be done here.”
72% of procurement leaders strongly agree that investment in data visibility and automation will help improve bottom-line performance
- 59% of US procurement leaders (above the average total of 49%) are waiting for further technological developments to be achieved before investing in new solutions
- Yet 65% (against an average of 54%) think out-of-date systems and processes are a barrier to progress
“The biggest bottleneck for procurement is getting the attention and support of the business for its initiatives. Having the right kind of analytical and functional capabilities would help it to frame its strategy correctly so that it could step in and engage business more. Business change is more painful than upfront investment, but procurement isn’t necessarily getting the financial support it needs and is employing older systems already used in other parts of the business. This is holding it back.”
- 76% of US procurement leaders think lack of knowledge or skills will impact on their ability to achieve their strategic procurement priorities
Procurement isn’t necessarily getting the financial support it needs and is employing older systems already used in other parts of the business – this is holding it back
“One of the biggest challenges around implementation is that these tools can’t do everything for you. There is some uncertainty about how to apply the insights extracted from technology, and there is also the need for users to change their ways of working.”
- 87% of German procurement leaders plan to make better use of existing technology
- 68% want to modernise legacy systems (above the total average of 53%)
- 75% think the integration of existing technology will have a major impact on the procurement function over the next five years
“Many German companies are either multicountry or multisite and growing through acquisition, which puts stresses and strains on integrating systems. Yet rather than making huge technological investments, they work with what they have – although they may struggle to get the information transparency they need. The information may be there, but it’s not presented in a way procurement wants because these different systems aren’t working together yet.”
- 61% of procurement leaders in Germany think they are either just keeping up with competitors or are behind competitors in terms of technology investments
“The procurement function has rarely been at the centre of technology investments. This has largely been because there has not been a strong enough business case to support the implementation of expensive systems, but also because businesses probably haven’t wanted to invest. Procurement should not be blind to the benefits of technology to help them become more effective, although at some point they will need to put some money on the table.”
Procurement should not be blind to the benefits of technology to help them become more effective