Repositioning the role
While the role of procurement itself has evolved internally and risen in value for businesses, the understanding outside of the department has not necessarily changed. This could explain why the skills gap is hard to fill and talent is not easy to engage.
“Even within the same company, the role different departments play is not always clearly understood,” adds Ras-Work. “To attract new talent – from both internal and external sources – we need to address the belief that procurement is simply an administrative or number-crunching role. Rarely is it seen for the business-critical, strategic role it has become."
“However, such is the value of the function, that one of our healthcare clients told us that when headcount had been frozen across the company during difficult times, procurement and supply chain roles were exempt,” she continues.
The procurement function supports investment programs, expanding a company’s facilities, and supporting new offerings. It can be a crucial part of achieving ESG goals and core business values. To get the most out of procurement, we need to change the external perception of the role. Getting closer to business stakeholders will be key in making this happen.
“As part of the re-positioning of procurement within businesses, we firmly believe that the commercial and stakeholder engagement skills it requires and fosters should make procurement a key stepping stone to promotion, and also that greater flexibility should be given for talent to move in and out of the department,” adds McNally.
The role of technology and automation
People remain key to the success of the procurement function, but technology is playing a bigger part in helping them achieve their full potential. As the skills of workers evolve, technology plays a key part in helping to optimize and automate the administrative and repetitive aspects of the role, which can be a major deterrent, and shift the focus to value-adding tasks instead.
Automating certain tasks improves overall efficiencies and gives the function a solid foundation on which to build skills, reputation, and overall business resilience.