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Bridging the Capability Gap in Strategic Procurement

Bridging the Capability Gap in Strategic Procurement

11 Oct 2023
5 min

In the increasingly complex business environment of 2023, procurement is more important than ever before. Not merely a cost-reducing function, procurement is undergoing a profound transformation. It’s evolving from a tactical role to becoming a strategic linchpin within organizations. However, the metamorphosis is far from over. A considerable capability gap still exists that needs to be addressed for procurement to completely assume its strategic mantle.

Procurement’s Changing Perception

A recent survey sheds light on the shifting perception of procurement. As much as 48% of procurement professionals now consider their role as strategic decision-makers within their organizations. Although this shows an optimistic shift, it simultaneously underscores that procurement’s strategic influence is yet to be wholly accepted in numerous companies.

Around 41% of surveyed Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) opine that further advancements are necessary for procurement to be acknowledged as strategic decision-makers, on par with their C-suite counterparts. This viewpoint underscores a capabilities gap, particularly evident in areas related to strategic procurement.

Dissecting the Gap: Perception and Capability Shortfalls

Two pivotal factors contribute to the capability gap: the prevailing perception of procurement and the inherent capabilities of procurement teams.

The Perception Problem

Historically, procurement has often been pigeonholed as a function dedicated to cost reduction. This tactical and operational role tends to eclipse the potential strategic contributions procurement can bring to the table, making the rise to the strategic procurement manager role more challenging.

Capabilities Gap

Alongside perception challenges, procurement teams often lack the necessary skills and tools to convert their activities into strategic contributions. These required skills encompass a procurement approach that extends beyond traditional methodologies. They also include effective stakeholder management, the foresight to envision and implement strategic scenarios, and the ability to contribute to the procurement strategy, particularly in areas like category management.

Moving Towards Strategic Procurement

For procurement to bridge this capability gap, it needs to magnify its strategic abilities. CPOs must lead this journey by harnessing data and strategic procurement tools, thereby providing valuable insights for organizational strategy formation.

Empowering Procurement Teams with Tools, Technology, and Resources

To deliver on this strategic potential, procurement teams need to be equipped with the right tools and resources. This arsenal should include comprehensive training, advanced technology, and a budget that reflects its strategic significance.

Digital procurement tools and technology, such as eProcurement systems and procurement automation software, can play a pivotal role in enabling this transformation. Category management software can streamline category management strategy, addressing key challenges in procurement, and driving strategic sourcing best practices.

Moreover, the use of collaborative strategic procurement software can enhance procurement market intelligence. It creates an environment that fosters collaboration, facilitates informed decision-making, and maximises value from procurement activities.

Upskilling Procurement Professionals

Aside from technology, another important aspect of bridging the capability gap is the development of human skills. Procurement professionals should receive training that empowers them with the knowledge and confidence to leverage strategic sourcing best practices, manage procurement networks, and stay abreast of digital procurement trends. Such training ensures procurement teams are capable of translating tactical activities into strategic outcomes. It shifts their role from mere executors to strategic advisors, contributing to procurement transformation solutions within their organizations.

Changing the Business Narrative: Embedding Procurement into Business Strategy

For procurement to truly exhibit its strategic potential, it must be recognized and integrated into the business planning processes at the strategic level. CPOs, equipped with a strategic vision and procurement excellence tools, need to be involved in high-level decision-making processes to help guide the trajectory of the business.


Conclusion: The Future of Procurement

Procurement’s transformation journey is already underway. Overcoming the capability gap will not only elevate procurement’s role but will also amplify its ability to drive business success in the highly volatile business landscape of 2023.

The future beckons procurement to adopt a robust procurement strategy, deploy strategic sourcing best practices, and embrace digital procurement trends proactively. Continuous learning and agility need to become an integral part of the procurement culture, ready to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment.

A fully realized strategic procurement function can significantly influence any organization’s competitive advantage, acting as a powerhouse for value creation, innovation, and resilience in the face of future challenges.

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