A New Resolution

Bridging The Procurement Gap In Your Digital Strategy

Jon Hansen

A New Year and a new beginning. At least this is the fresh promise that comes when the calendar rolls around to January 1st. But is this enthusiastic restart a reality or will it fade into the same old – same old façade of empty hope and unfulfilled promise?

Will the treadmill in your bedroom become a focal point of your new exercise regime or will it continue to be an expensive clothes hanger?

The answer is surprisingly simple; it is up to you. What are you prepared to do to make the “better you” a reality?

As a procurement professional you should be asking yourself the same question relative to your role in the emerging digital age where breakthrough P2P technologies are streamlining not only processes but reshaping enterprises.

Not Just Banging A Drum

What do you mean reshaping enterprises? How does P2P reshape an enterprise? These words sound more like an infomercial written by some service provider attempting to promote their solution. Or even worse, an industry association attempting to give you false hope regarding your ongoing relevancy even though industry pundits predict that 40 percent of procurement professionals will be losing their jobs in the next few years.

Being in the procurement world for longer than I care to admit, I understand such skepticism. I don’t agree with it as I have generally seen it as a lethargic acceptance of our delegation to the role of spectator as opposed to being an active contributor to enterprise success and continuing growth.

In an attempt to jumpstart our importance and influence, we have openly lamented our inability to gain a seat at the table despite making what we view as being important contributions to the bottom line.

We have sought accreditation as a means of demonstrating our knowledge, and expanded our learning to include finance terminology so that we could talk the walk even if we didn’t walk the walk. Say that fast three times.

These sometimes surreptitious efforts have been for the most part red herrings causing us to miss the real opportunities that are before us — opportunities that not only affect our profession but both the IT and finance professions as well.

Owning The Digital Enterprise

The fact is, the enterprise and our lives, in general, are being dramatically transformed across the board by the digital realities of technological breakthroughs. Digital is the ultimate game changer!

But here is the thing; control and influence in the digital enterprise are still up for grabs. Unfortunately, procurement professionals are pulling a Nero, i.e., fiddling while the fire grows, because we insist on viewing the world as we have known it rather than what it has become. Stubbornness such as this means we are missing a golden opportunity.

What golden opportunity you might ask?

According to industry reports, 70 percent of digital innovations in the industry “is delivered through the supply chain,” yet a McKinsey study found that of the companies that participated in a survey “only 2 percent” indicates that the supply chain is part of their “forward-looking digital strategies.”

If digital reinvention is the future, and 70 percent of said delivery is through the supply chain, then procurement professionals should be taking the lead regarding the development and implementation of a forward-looking strategy, including the determination of the P2P partners with whom we will work.

Building The Procurement Bridge

A very long time ago I wrote an article questioning technology’s relevance as the focal point for any initiative or strategy. The basis for this position is the belief that people are the driving force behind enterprise success. If you do not have the right people in the right seat on the bus – thank you, Jim Collins, then you will not succeed.

Twelve years later, and despite the enormous technological breakthroughs I have seen, the gap between the supply chain’s recognized importance and the paucity of viable strategies to deliver maximum value through said chain continues to be wide.

You are the procurement professional and supply chain expert. Unless you step up to the plate the gap will continue to exist, or eventually, someone else will take the lead, and you will once again feel the sting of spectator relegation.

As we begin in 2019, I pose this question or better yet challenge to all procurement professionals: is this the year you finally remove the clothes from the treadmill (metaphorically speaking) and get up to speed regarding your organization’s digital strategy?

I cannot think of anyone in a better position to assume this leadership role, can you?