The Procurement Identity Crisis: Why We Need To Ask More of Procurement Professionals

Advanced recently undertook a comprehensive survey engaging 300+ ANZ procurement leaders and professionals to unlock world-first insights into the future of procurement. One of the report’s pivotal findings is the underutilised potential of procurement professionals. Teams are ready to lead the charge and strengthen business outcomes in genuine partnership – if leadership are ready to hand them the reins.

Read the full report: Future-Focused Procurement: Forging Ahead in ANZ

What is the “Procurement Identity Crisis”?

Procurement teams find they’re capable and confident of much more than providing a traditional box-ticking service. They’re ready, willing and able to provide strategic, powerful, business-growing assistance in genuine partnership with stakeholders. 

Where the “crisis” element comes in is the disconnect between ability and capability. While procurement teams have the expertise and strategic knowledge to provide business value, they often lack the technology, resources and investment from upper management to make it happen.

What does this crisis mean for the future of procurement?

According to the report, 43% of procurement professionals believe the top priority of an optimal business partner should be to “strengthen business outcomes”. This took out the top place over “improving efficiency”, “reducing risk”, and even “driving growth”. 

We must ask ourselves, “is the procurement industry demanding enough in terms of what they want procurement people to be capable of?”  We need to expect more from procurement teams because, frankly, they’re ready to deliver, and they’re the key to unlocking opportunities for growth and business resilience.

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Asking more of procurement professionals

The definition of “good procurement” has changed rapidly over the past five to ten years. As supply chains have been pummelled by unprecedented challenges and social, environmental and sustainability targets grapple with profitability demands, procurement leaders have become crucial players in business success. 

Reframing procurement professionals as optimal business partners, both to internal and external stakeholders, lets us see them as the changemakers they are. Procurement teams have the power to strengthen business outcomes across a range of areas through genuine relationship building, a solution-oriented mindset and a strategic, rather than servicing, capability. Let’s break those down.

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Why confident procurement professionals are the secret to success

According to the report, 75% of procurement professionals feel at least somewhat confident in meeting the evolving needs of businesses. 

In a volatile global procurement environment and in the face of ever-increasing ERP demands, businesses will look to the 12% of procurement professionals who say they feel “very confident” in meeting business needs. These leaders, or “gamechangers” will be critical to strengthening bottom lines, growing resilience and delivering a sustainable competitive advantage.

The value of relationship-building

As automation and procurement technology become ever more sophisticated, procurement professionals can spend more time strengthening relationships and leaning into their strategic capabilities. 

One key challenge that’s unlikely ever to go away is bridging the gap between a business’s understanding of procurement and its potential value to its bottom line. Procurement employees who understand and can articulately explain the art and function of procurement will become invaluable in delivering results. 

Moving from process-focused to solution-focused procurement

Lead with a solution, and the process will follow. Growing procurement capability is no longer a matter of optimise, optimise, optimise, but of reframing the way we work to centre the solution, then working in a way that best facilitates that solution. 

It’s about understanding that the process isn’t a rigid template but a flexible framework to adapt and mould, ensuring that the chosen solution aligns perfectly with the unique demands of each situation. This mindset empowers procurement professionals to embrace creativity, adaptability, and innovation to deliver optimal outcomes.


Harnessing the strategic potential of procurement teams

The Future Focused Procurement: Forging Ahead in ANZ 2023/2024 Report provides unprecedented insights into procurement in the region and provides clear steps on harnessing the power of procurement teams for a strategic procurement capability.

Read the full report: Future-Focused Procurement: Forging Ahead in ANZ