How technology has changed procurement in the last 10 years

Over the past decade business procurement has experienced rapid technological upheaval that, in the main, has made life easier for everyone involved.

The first ever Global Procurement Technology Summit was held in March 2016. It shows the emphasis procurement is now putting on understanding and utilising new technologies, and that it’s clearly a huge talking point for professionals across the world.

Looking in greater detail: which technology has been responsible and what has the effect been on procurement and buying professionals?

1. More informed decisions are being made

The digitalisation of procurement processes and integration of data-sharing across buyer behaviour, ratings and history of purchases over extended periods of time, has made for smarter and more informed decisions.

Despite the greater insight into decision-making, a study of US procurement professionals still revealed accurate forecasting to be the biggest challenge, something that’s possibly down to the rise in budget responsibilities over the last ten years.

The Coupa ‘Top 5: Constants and Change in Cloud Procurement’ report revealed that in 2003, budgets were reported as an average of $31m, compared to $100m in 2013.

2. Response times have drastically reduced

Procurement solutions are now quicker and easier than ever thanks to new marketplace technologies.

Buyers can take advantage of online purchasing possibilities, using websites like Amazon to source, purchase and arrange delivery of items.

The speed of procurement reflects the new speed in which consumerism moves ‒ the integration of digital mediums with online shopping has made the process of deliberation through to transaction much easier, a trend which has been reflected in the world of procurement.

3. Integration has brought its own problems

Technological integration has created many positives for procurement, but it’s also created challenges.

Millennials will make up 40% of the workforce by 2020, which is great for improving current procurement solutions as younger generations have higher expectations for technology and are early adapters.

However, the average age of procurement professionals in the UK is currently 44 – much older than the next generation of workers, who fully understand the capabilities of technology, and who will be easier to train and able to work with increased speed and accuracy.

The gap will close in the coming years, but procurement faces a struggle as older workers need to ensure their skills are relevant to the changing world around them.

Additionally, Hays’ ‘Procurement Salary Guide’ revealed that demand for procurement professionals has increased at all levels within the public sector, pushing salaries up. This demand is the result of a squeeze on public finances and attempts to cut costs following the slowdown in the economy.

4, Technology and the future of procurement

To conclude, technology is clearly a powerful enabler that’s here to stay. Plenty of companies are now seeing the importance of procurement technology as a means to improve their bottom lines, which was reflected in the inaugural Global Procurement Technology Summit earlier this year.

Integration of contract management, risk management and supplier lifecycle systems through investment in improved systems with added capabilities, has ensured more accurate sourcing is possible and due to the skills involved in running these systems, has driven salaries up.

Sophia Chapman is a guest contributor from Portfolio Procurement, expert recruiters in the compensation, benefit and reward sector.

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