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Just about a year ago, I partnered with a large multinational company interested in improving the end-user experience through digitally guided buying. Six months of competitive sourcing and provider pitches led to a winner being declared, but no contract was signed. Despite all of the solid, quality work that went into identifying the best solution, shifting priorities within the C-Suite meant this project was going nowhere. Does this situation sound familiar?

The agility of procurement leaders required to pivot to new and evolving priorities was certainly tested in the rollercoaster that was 2020. But as we all prolong our video-conference addiction while also looking for innovative ways to network with peers, it makes sense to take a closer look at procurement priorities for 2021.

To help guide your thinking, I’d like to share some procurement benchmarking insights gleaned from our global Procurement Pulse Check Survey, conducted in partnership with ProcureCon. We heard from more than 100 procurement executives from around the world about their top priorities for the year ahead.

Three major themes emerged:

  • Strategic Business Alignment

  • Business Impact

  • Digital Maturity

Let’s dive deeper into each…

Strategic Business Alignment: Improve Procurement Impact by Knowing What Motivates Your Stakeholders

We heard overwhelmingly that procurement needs to do a better job of aligning with core business objectives and the needs of key stakeholders. Not always an easy task, but a crucial one as procurement teams aim to be viewed as more than a cost-savings function.

Procurement organizations that are successful at business-alignment take a holistic approach to increase total business value. This includes not only cost-savings, but risk management, innovation, user experience, supply management, compliance, sustainability, and a host of other drivers.

The majority of survey respondents – 64% -- indicated they had not yet achieved a strong level of business alignment. And 62% indicated that they would invest more budget and resources into building better procurement stakeholder alignment in 2021.

Business Impact: Maximizing Procurement's Business Value

Over the years, procurement has raised its profile as a strategic ally with the potential to create significant business value beyond the balance sheet. During the pandemic, more agile procurement organizations were able to pivot quickly to increase and broaden their business impact, while those less prepared were unable to rise to the challenge.

Survey responses indicate that procurement’s value contribution opportunities continue to expand, and that agility and strategic bandwidth are team attributes necessary for success. Building strategic bandwidth and capabilities is an investment area for many organizations in 2021 through increased investment in Talent Management and Operating Model enhancements:

 

 

Digital Maturity: Knowing Which Enablers You Need for Success

Digital transformation accelerated rapidly as pressure was placed on organizations to respond to the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and build fully virtual workforces. Many procurement organizations implemented new tools, processes, and ways of working to move to a new digital business model.

This year, many more organizations will increase their investment into digital. The study provided the following insights into new areas of investment in digital tools and enablers for 2021:

 

 

Where Should CPOs Be Investing Efforts in 2021?

So, with the overall goals of increased business alignment, greater business impact and accelerated digital transformation, where should CPOs be focused for the coming year? While priorities will differ depending on the organization, the survey revealed the following five top areas of investment:

  1. Building stakeholder trust and relationships to improve business alignment
  2. Developing a stronger, more compelling approach to talent management
  3. Implementing a more agile and impactful Operating Model
  4. Refocusing digital transformation efforts to become more realistic and attainable
  5. Enhancing the business value of procurement by creating a strong value proposition

I encourage you to download a copy of our full report and analysis of the Procurement Pulse Check Survey to delve deeper into the perspectives of your peers and our thoughts on steps you can take to embrace the suggested priorities which are relevant for your organization.

 

About the Author

Denis Royer
Senior Vice President, Sales

Denis Royer Denis Royer is Senior Vice President of Sales in EMEA at WNS-Denali. Denis has 20+ years of experience in procurement, Business Process Management, risk management and business transformation. Denis honed his skills in a variety of roles, including CPO, Group Director of Supply Management, Managing Director, Global Head of Sales and Marketing and Entrepreneur. Prior to WNS he held global leadership roles at Xchanging Procurement Services, KnightRidder SSC, Media Consortium, PwC, Nortel Networks, and Liebherr Aerospace. He holds Master’s degrees from Georgia Tech and Grenoble EM.

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