2020 has been quite an unexpected year for all of us – both in our virtual offices and personal lives. A lot has been said about the negative impacts of COVID.  Let’s talk about the positives and lessons learned. I admire the resilience and agility of many successful procurement organizations. I have enjoyed hearing how CPOs have rapidly adjusted their procurement strategy, despite sudden and significant operational and supply chain disruptions. In fact, this was the key theme at my recent plenary panel. 

3 Lessons Learned: Procurement Pro Tips for Agility & Resilience  

I was fortunate to join a panel discussion with procurement executives from Co-op, Nestlé, and Santander at ProcureCon Europe 2020. Together, we talked about how our organizations have handled these unique circumstances, which no university courses or past experiences prepared us to tackle. This is an unprecedented time for all of us; we adapted and learned along the way. You can listen to the recording of the panel session here. Below are three key lessons learned from our discussion and the conference: 

  1.  “Agility is the new normal.” During the panel, Jarrod Glover, Head of Procurement, UK, Santander, shared how his team has embraced agility and driving procurement innovation. The team is actively working towards leveraging an agile approach to reduce project cycle time for new product launches. Santander is aiming for short term gains and upside without sacrificing the long-term commercial position of the bank.

    Procurement Pro Tip: Remember, agility does not mean forgoing your long-term vision and strategy for procurement. Instead, think of agility as a mindset to work through difficult situations and projects that require quick decisions to meet new deadlines or requirements. Agility and curiosity are two precious qualities of any good procurement practitioner.

  2. “Protect your people and your ecosystem.” All players are interconnected. A major theme at the conference was procurement's power to add value to your ecosystem both externally and internally. Procurement professionals manage a delicate balance between internal and external stakeholders. Proactive and regular interactions between stakeholders, category managers, buyers, and suppliers play a critical role in your business continuity. 

    Christophe Villain, Global Head of Supply Chain and Procurement Technology, Nestlé, shared how procurement is empowered to manage this massive network of influence and add value to the business. Also, Claire Costello, Chief Procurement Officer, Co-op shared how strong Supplier Relationship Management has paid back in dividends, a welcome benefit during the trying pandemic times.  Claire from Co-op also noted, “Never lose focus on servicing your customers.” Think through the impact of every internal and external customer interaction – all the way through the end of the line where consumers are walking through your doors or ordering from your brand online.  Orchestrated communication is critical to your recovery and success.

    Heading into 2021, every CPO has many opportunities to add additional value throughout its ecosystem and value chain. There is no shortage of potential and power within the procurement function right now. Protect your people – they are the lifeblood of your business performance. Take care of your ecosystem and seize the opportunity to make it stronger.

    Procurement Pro Tip: Transformation requires mastering your procurement ecosystem. This means achieving alignment with your stakeholders, suppliers, and business imperatives. Also, get a grasp on your data to exploit insights and effectively influence your organization's success. A connected procurement function that solves problems and drives innovation with a holistic viewpoint will help any business outperform in the market. 

  3. “Digitalising Procurement is not a business strategy in itself.” I loved this quote from Christophe during the panel. Technology can be an accelerator for your organization, but only if you consider business priorities and strategies as key focus for your digital procurement journey. There is no shortage of flashy AI and intelligent technologies, but technology alone can’t fix broken processes or bad data. Digital transformation is more than incorporating new technologies and tools into your environment – it requires again mastering your procurement ecosystem in light of your company's ambition and priorities. 

    Procurement Pro Tip: I advise CPOs to use digitalization as an accelerator to respond to the business strategy and priorities – not the other way around. If you are looking for inspiration, our team recently launched a digital guidebook that helps you align your digital strategy to your unique procurement ecosystem. You can use our tools and templates to set a vision for your procurement function and self-assess your maturity to understand what digital choices are best for you. Download the digital roadmap guidebook here. 

In my opinion, procurement is seizing 2020 as an opportunity to accelerate transformation. I look forward to hearing the success stories that will emerge next year on the main stage. 

Top Priorities for CPOs in 2021: What Happens Next? 

As we head into 2021, we could all benefit from more insight and foresight. That is why ProcureCon and WNS Denali have partnered on this Procurement Pulse Check benchmark survey. We are investigating Procurement’s current state and top strategic priorities for CPOs for 2021. You will discover how you compare across various dimensions of procurement transformation, performance, digital readiness, and maturity by participating. As a token of our appreciation, we will provide you with early access to the data points that will help you enter 2021 with confidence and purpose. All data will remain anonymous and any personal details provided will remain confidential. You can complete the survey here. 

In my next blog post, we will explore ways procurement organizations are innovating to resolve a long-standing pain and risk point. Stay tuned… Until then, please connect with me on LinkedIn and share your lessons learned from 2020 or vision for 2021.


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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