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6 Silver Linings From An Era of Unpredictability

By February 16, 2023July 21st, 2023No Comments

Art of Procurement recently welcomed Rujul Zaparde and Colin Glazier from Zip on an AOP Live session focused on Forecasting the Future. Most companies are laser focused on savings and operational efficiency right now, which is good news for procurement.

There was a lot of good news in this session, and I’ve captured some of the best ‘silver linings’ here.

The ‘Churn’ is Starting to Slow

Between constant firefighting and large impact layoffs, companies have had their hands full. For many of them, however, things are starting to stabilize – and while this does not suggest an easy path forward, there should be less surprises (knocking on wood right now…). 

As Colin Glazier told us, “I think we’re going to see a shift from ‘now we have the people on the bus that we want on the bus; how do we go forward from here and get back to growth and get back to building our core product and really executing?’” Procurement has a key role to play in this effort, and the first step is recognizing any stabilization that has already happened and adjusting pace and process accordingly.

Procurement Is Now More Resilient

Even as the churn fades, we can recognize that it changed many procurement teams for the better. Rujul Zaparde shared his positive outlook on this front, “ I think that initial change in the early to mid-2020 really compelled a lot of CPOs and procurement organizations to become more resilient.” But how exactly – and what did that process of resilience building look like?

Procurement teams that were able to understand the delicate balance between cost-cutting and the other core objectives of procurement have a head start on teams that are still working with a ‘cost first’ model. Not only does moving beyond cost broaden the forms of value procurement is able to deliver, but it also strengthens relationships with key suppliers. The best news of all? It is never too late to start down this path.

New Incentives for the Business to Work with Procurement

The current economic climate has contributed to an environment where the business is willing to work side by side with procurement to get wins. Executives care about cost savings, and working with procurement is the best way to get there.

While the business will not always care about savings as much as they do today, this is an opportunity for procurement to build relationships and demonstrate a willingness to partner that should last long into the future.

Suppliers Want to Partner with Their Customers

It isn’t just stakeholders that are signing up to collaborate with procurement; suppliers are looking to cooperate too.

Rujul explained, “Everyone knows this is a time of rationalization. People are cutting the fat and down-selecting to single suppliers where maybe they would have used multiple in the past. There is an opportunity to be a winner (and potentially even grow your business with your customers) if you are willing to lean into the relationship. If you are not willing to do that, somebody else is going to get your portion of the business.”

This is a unique time for procurement and supplier representatives to identify what those opportunities are, be a little more aggressive, and potentially win even though there are macroeconomic headwinds. 

Procurement is Playing an Active Role in Risk Management

The rise of third-party risk management has aligned with an increase in the extent to which third-party risk management falls under procurement’s umbrella. A substantial portion of risk comes from a company’s supplier base – so the move is only natural. 

Merging risk and supplier management efforts allows for a unified process that is closely aligned with overall procurement processes because you simply can’t do one without the other.

‘No code’ Puts Power and Control in Procurement’s Hands

With legacy systems, so much blood, sweat, and tears goes into initial implementations that the day the platform goes live, there is already a clear divergence between reality and business process. 

As Rujul said during the webinar, “Businesses and systems mature and change every year. If there is friction associated with changing anything – whether it be a field or logic or a condition – the workflow is impacted. And that divergence compounds.” For many companies, that brings them back to where they were before they started their digital journey.

“No-code allows procurement to take a much more iterative and agile approach to making sure that the software and the systems are really mapped to reality,” he pointed out. “Especially when we look at the macro changes and how much volatility there is in the world. No-code isn’t a one-step improvement; it’s actually a multi-step improvement of magnitude change.” 

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