In the 1990s, procurement professionals predominantly had to focus on strategic sourcing and shared services. In the 2000s, the emphasis moved to procurement automation, source-to-pay business payment systems and category management. These capabilities have become essential to the procurement industry, and organisations that do not adopt them will find that supply chain difficulties hinder their business activities rather than become a strategic benefit.

Today, procurement is experiencing a new trend. Old supply chain jobs are disappearing, and new roles are making an appearance. Increasingly, traditional procurement jobs are being outsourced or relocated offshore and are becoming automated. Activities like PO creation, spend analytics, compliance reporting and requisition processing are now automated and hardly require human intervention.

Robotics process automation

Robotics process automation (RPA) has become increasingly common, resulting in artificial intelligence systems handling strategic sourcing functions. Organisations that are trying to optimise traditional procurement tools have found that robotics technologies are able to use these tools more efficiently. In turn, this is resulting in procurement job reduction, and the remaining positions will most likely be better paid and require a higher level of competency.

Innovation in procurement

It has been observed that a majority of procurement decisions are about sameness instead of innovation. That is why procurement professionals are not currently considered strategic partners and frequently do not take part in the decision-making process. The companies and professionals who will survive Brexit and a competitive global market are the ones who focus on innovation and are not content to accept old models of procurement. These companies are adopting anything as a service (XaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT).

The bottom line

The procurement processes of yesterday are not aligned with the modern environment. Today, vendor management is essential, and organisations have to collaborate with their suppliers and vendors to drive growth and innovation. It has become essential for CPOs to look for procurement talent that enables transformation rather than hindering it. With technology becoming the mainstay of procurement, everyone holding a supply chain job needs to be tech savvy and have the right financial knowledge to analyse new models for value creation.

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