The Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2019
Procurement industry complexities: Overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities
This year’s global chief procurement officer survey provides insight into how the procurement operating model is shifting toward more flexible procurement strategies. Explore how chief procurement officers (CPOs) who aim to be digitally enabled “complexity masters” can deliver value in lockstep with the business, no matter the challenges ahead.
The 2019 survey was conducted in association with procurement market intelligence firm Spend Matters and Odgers Berndston. In this year’s survey, 481 procurement leaders from 38 countries took part, representing organisations with a combined annual turnover of US $5 trillion.
Why top-performing chief procurement officers must become masters of complexity
From trade wars, climate change, and digital disruption to talent shortages and regulations, procurement organisations today are facing increasing complexity on all fronts. This complexity has only amplified challenges for chief procurement officers. In addition to delivering sourcing-centric cost savings, they’re also expected to enhance their influence with C-level peers and extend their business impact into strategic areas such as procurement risk management, corporate development, and innovation. However, more often than not, chief procurement officers are asked to do all of this with fewer resources and thinner budgets.
While many chief procurement officers may feel like they could drown in a sea of complexity, they can still find ways to stay afloat—or even identify new opportunities to move their organisations forward. This year’s Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey explores how CPOs can change their lens on improving core value chains and organisational resources. The report also provides insights on tapping transformational digital capabilities to revolutionise the procurement industry. And finally, it details how CPOs can become “complexity masters” who are able to turn the risks apparent in complex business scenarios into value creation opportunities.
We examine procurement complexity in four areas:
- External complexity: Everything outside the four walls of the organisation that procurement must acquire and manage to serve its internal stakeholders.
- Internal complexity: The challenges of managing inter-functional relationships and aligning procurement with broader business objectives.
- Talent complexity: People, organisational models, and how procurement teams execute on their business plans.
- Digital complexity: Technology and processes issues that both mediate the other three complexity areas and fuel digital transformation efforts.
External Complexity: Respondents agreed that they could decrease damage to their organisations in a potential economic downturn by utilising the procurement strategies they employ in their day-to-day jobs.
- Identical to the 2018 survey, only one in four respondents described themselves as excellent business partners that contribute significant strategic value.
- Respondents cited an economic downturn as the top risk impacting procurement.
- Even among respondents who anticipate an economic downturn, most CPOs plan to employ traditional tactics in response, such as contract renegotiations with existing suppliers (58 percent), conducting competitive bids with new suppliers to reduce prices (54 percent), and reducing costs by changing design requirements (54 percent).
Internal Complexity: There’s a significant need for procurement to maintain functional alignment, both as a service provider for stakeholders and as a business partner in strategic planning.
- While cost reduction is still the number one focus, leaders also cited procurement risk management (managing corporate risk, 53 percent; managing corporate social responsibility, 43 percent) and growth (expanding or introducing digital business models, 50 percent; introducing new products/services or expanding into new markets, 46 percent) as top areas of focus.
- Most respondents look to digital procurement transformation to improve and automate processes via modern IT tools.
Talent Complexity: CPOs must tackle the industry-wide shortage of analytical and technical skills needed for success but also embrace new ways of thinking about talent.
- Respondents noted improvement in the talent gap; at least 45 percent claimed their current teams were “to some extent” at the level of sufficiency, and an encouraging 38 percent of organisations were “to a large extent” appropriately skilled.
- This year, respondents report increased training emphasis on technical procurement skills, with 62 percent planning to address it in the coming year compared with 41 percent last year.
- In addition, respondent teams’ soft skills jumped to 49 percent this year compared with 36 percent in 2018.
Digital Complexity: CPOs must rely on a core set of technologies that automate tactical, low-value work and enhance the function’s ability to focus on more strategic efforts.
- More than half of respondents (54 percent) viewed analytics as the technology area that will have the most impact on their businesses going forward, showing CPOs are eager to leverage the proactive and predictive capabilities of this technology.
- Responses indicate that the technologies that are driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, AI/cognitive (49 percent) and computing and blockchain (63 percent), are of little focus and haven’t been utilised at their respective organisations.