What are the top procurement trends and best procurement strategies?
Procurement is a challenging and complex process that involves various steps, multiple parties, and significantly the latest procurement trends impact the company’s profitability and performance. It is the long-term process of identifying, selecting, and negotiating with vendors and buying or procuring required products, components, or services at a large scale to produce the company’s products. Ensuring high quality and impeccable speed-to-market can be difficult, and procurement significantly impacts the strategies, teams, and processes required to succeed. Therefore, it has become a major business unit with dedicated teams, experts, processes, software, and technology and continues to change as organizational structure, machinery, and markets change. Over recent years, there have been various industry developments that served as or caused trends in procurement. These procurement trends include technology changes, novel strategic approaches, new processes, and necessary adaptations to change. As supply chains become increasingly complex, procurement has become highly crucial and influential in the production process and continues to grow.
Top Procurement Trends 2021
Digital Strategy: As urbanization, globalization, and digitization influence and change the manufacturing, production, and procurement world, companies need to adjust their strategies to accommodate the new era. While adopting new technology, keeping pace with changing procurement trends, and implementing new processes is imperative and effective, it is also crucial to develop new digitally sound and transformative strategies. To propel their digital capabilities, companies must make the right investments and the required changes and align this transformation with the business’s end goals. Recently, developing a strong digital strategy has become a necessity and the key to success in procurement.
Supplier Partnerships: Business partnerships have changed substantially in recent years, giving rise to the need for positive communication, aligned business objectives, and mutually beneficial agreements. Due to the high level of exchanges, purchases, deals, and contracts taking place during the procurement stage, companies have witnessed a rise in productivity, profitability, and growth when suppliers and companies have positive and supportive partnerships. This involves engaging in supplier relationship management and ensuring that valuable suppliers are retained and their ideas or inputs are taken into consideration during the development and procurement process. This procurement trend has become a crucial tenet of supply chain management and requires dedicated change and evolution on behalf of both parties.
Risk Management: Increased use of technology, rising benefits of digital platforms, changing machinery, and new systems can lead to various risks for companies in the procurement process. At this stage, multiple threats could inhibit the company, such as injury to employees, cyber-threats, equipment failure, and supplier delays. While these may vary from minor to major, their impact will often carry through the end-consumer supply chain. These risks can lead to a significantly slower speed-to-market, lost data or equipment malfunctions, and low morale or a labor shortage. Therefore, risk management strategies have become a growing and necessary procurement trend, and industry leaders are investing significantly in hiring supply chain risk management experts to mitigate potential challenges.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI: Procurement can often be the constant repetition of certain mundane tasks, such as managing large-volume orders, and low-value negotiations, or the transport of heavy materials. This has led to a significant rise in the adoption of robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). As this procurement trend grows, companies are expected to substantially reduce the probability of human error and the requirement for unskilled labor. These technologies will manage and maintain repetitive end-to-end tasks, and employees will increase focus on creating efficient and helpful processes or systems. AI and RPA are expected to ensure efficiency, continuity, and coordination. AI and IIoT have also reduced the probability of equipment failure by enabling predictive maintenance and helped managers focus on employee safety and business continuity.
Leveraging Data: Analytics, research, and data have transformed supply chains substantially over the last decade, and companies are beginning to learn and appreciate their value in procurement. A recent procurement trend has been adopting, evaluating, and executing data-driven strategies to improve performance, reduce risks, increase RPA and AI contributions, and significantly enhance efficiency. Data helps companies and professionals gain insights into suppliers’ performance, problem points and weaknesses in the company, potential internal and external risks, and critical areas for improvement. IIoT and smart factories have also helped companies embrace real-time tracking while conducting predictive maintenance, reducing risk to employees, improving speed-to-market, and countering human error within the supply chain.
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Supply chains have become increasingly influenced by global, socio-political, and legal conditions, making it increasingly challenging for companies to enhance efficiency and improve time-to-market. However, procurement has changed significantly to accommodate these challenges, and various major trends have influenced a transformation within supply chains across industries. The development of new technologies, adoption of data and analytics, improved systems to identify and mitigate risks, and novel strategies have served as crucial procurement trends that create space for higher efficiency, improved speed-to-market, better production, reduced errors, and satisfied end-consumers. Additionally, with these trends, companies can streamline, coordinate, maintain, and manage their supply chain processes in a productive, sustainable, and beneficial way.