With the festive period just around the corner, I was curious to understand what would be on the Christmas list for a number of CPO’s from a procurement capability perspective.
Following a recent procurement event, it became clear that several key areas still keep them awake at night. These vary depending upon the overall maturity of the organisation and in some respects the sector they are operating within. However, the following subject areas cropped up consistently throughout the discussion.
Top of their list was Risk Management; this falls under several subject headers from the more obvious financial and continuity of supply, to general disruption and factors that fall out of your control such as weather, natural disasters and industrial action. However there is an increasing awareness of new and / or growing elements of Risk. These were:
- Technology – Is the business utilising the most appropriate technology and utilising this effectively across the organisation and consistently irrespective of the location; particularly challenging in a truly global business? From the plethora of software packages available – are we using the correct one? Does it interface effectively within the global ERP and other software packages? How easy is it to migrate existing data across from finance to drive to and useful spend analytics data?
- Reputational Risk – we all recall the horse meat scandal of 2013 and the damaging effect this had within the retail and food sectors. In this ever increasing social media age, this can spread within a matter of minutes/hours. Therefore adding an additional layer of complexity when assessing a new supplier and the damaging effective they pose to your business.
- Talent – I have read and heard on countless occasions about the lack of talent coming into the profession and the challenges of attracting the right talent into the function. However, one of the individuals raised a valid point concerning the offshoring of back office procurement activities that would ordinarily have been undertaken by an assistant/junior buyer; and this has potentially closed off another route into the profession.
- Governance – a major concern particularly within a complex, multi-site organisation that has historically grown via acquisition, inheriting a whole myriad of processes and procedures and the challenge that ensues in trying to achieve a common and unilateral approach to procurement.
- Cyber – this one was the most interesting areas, and focused on growing threats to any organisation and the consequences filtering down to the procurement function. One CPO talked about engaging with some external ex-security services personnel to outline the risks and how these can be mitigated which was fascinating. It was interesting to see the implications of the cyber-attack on TalkTalk two weeks after this discussion.
Addressing these areas is a complication, expensive and time consuming affair, but getting them right is crucial for any business, large or small.
Richard Guest is a Consultant in the Procurement and Supply Chain Practice at Berwick Partners.