I and some of my fellow opuscapitans were thrilled to participate in the Nordic Strategy Forum CPO in Riga this February. During the two days we had many interesting conversations with CPOs and Senior Sourcing and Procurement Executives from the largest companies in the Nordics. I thought I would share with you my key takeaways from those conversations and outline what’s on top of the agenda of the CPOs at the moment.
1. The topic that came up in almost every discussion was CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility. Procurement executives find the topic of sustainable and ethical sourcing to be very important – especially from the risk management perspective. Given the importance of the subject, I was surprised that very few companies actually seemed to have responsibility issues in their KPIs.
Some of the most interesting debates of the Forum happened around this topic. Ask yourself: what should your company do if it found out that a supplier is not meeting the standards? Should you end business with the supplier in question, perhaps even the whole area or country in question, immediately and find a new partner that will live up to the requirements? Or should you actually maintain the relationship and make an effort to get the supplier to change their ways of operating? By demanding a change you could also be doing something good in the world. Determining the best approach is not easy. Can the company owners or media and the public opinion, for example, sympathize that the change in the supplier’s conduct doesn’t happen overnight?
2. Most of the company representatives I talked to seemed to struggle with the same problem: how to find the talent to develop the modern procurement function. Experts with the right competence and experience are hard to come by. Perhaps the solution is to look outside sourcing and open-mindedly hire people with a different career background.
3. I was a little surprised by how many companies still struggle with their P2P solution. The main issues concerned the automation of the end-to-end purchase-to-pay chain and contract compliance. Based on my discussions, the current levels are startlingly low in many cases. It’s a shame, as the transparency of the automated solutions, for instance, helps to solve the concerns voiced in the event: to mitigate risks and increase control. There’s a tremendous potential for improvement!
4. This year’s Forum focused on improving the bridge between procurement and the company strategy and on the value creation in the complex, competitive and fast-moving environment. One of the recurring talking points was related to this: procurement function aims to be appreciated and seen as valuable by the business.
5. Procurement experts are expecting the same usability and flexibility from their B2B solutions than what they are used to in the B2C environment. This is a clear message to system providers, who need to re-think the design of the solutions. Mobility and usability are the key elements for the future.
To sum it all up, there are a lot of topical issues that are shaping the procurement’s agenda at the moment. It makes me excited to think about all the possibilities we have to support the companies in improving their P2P process and with that, to help them develop their procurement function’s role further, too.
Director Presales P2P