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It’s a great time to be in procurement

It’s no longer about being invited to the table in support of the business. It’s not “us vs. them.” This is about asserting our agency to open the door, sitting down at the table and making useful contributions.

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This is an excerpt of the original article. It was written for the May-June 2021 edition of Supply Chain Management Review. The full article is available to current subscribers.

May-June 2021

Indulge me for a minute, while I lead a cheer for our profession. I wrote my column for the January 2021 issue of SCMR one Sunday morning after watching the first trucks full of vaccine roll out of a Pfizer plant in Michigan, headed for a UPS sortation depot. I felt an incredible sense of optimism for the country, and pride in the role that we, as supply chain managers, were going to play to combat a pandemic. Supply chain as in the spotlight, and on that morning, it was for all the right reasons. Fast forward to late April 2021.
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The procurement function stands at the precipice of a new decade, one that will be punctuated by endless macro disruptions, massive technological innovation and a new generation of professionals. It’s an era of uncertainty. Institutions created after World War II (such as the United Nations, North American Treaty Organization and the European Union) long provided a stable operating and legal foundation on which to conduct business—but those institutions are now imperiled. Indeed, governments and global institutions once addressed intellectual property protection, R&D, security, financial stability and risk, but now businesses likely must put greater efforts into all of these areas.

As COVID-19 demonstrated, businesses need to build extensible, flexible and resilient supply chains that can adapt locally or globally based on changing political and economic conditions. Yet it’s a challenging time to work in operations because many enterprises seem more focused today on the commercial side of their business, in pursuit of earnings
targets and short-term profit.

Nevertheless, the procurement profession has matured from people who simply ended up there to a new generation of motivated, highly capable difference makers. This new generation is hyper-networked and prone to collective success beyond the four walls of an individual enterprise. They no longer see business as a zero-sum game of information hoarding, posturing and arrogance. Part of this change can be attributed to the fact that procurement organizations are far more diverse and inclusive than they have ever been in the past. This internal change of generations and cultures—as much as external events such as hurricanes or pandemics—should prompt leaders to question whether traditional “best practices” and “best-in-class” templates remain relevant.

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From the May-June 2021 edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

May-June 2021

Indulge me for a minute, while I lead a cheer for our profession. I wrote my column for the January 2021 issue of SCMR one Sunday morning after watching the first trucks full of vaccine roll out of a Pfizer plant in…
Browse this issue archive.
Access your online digital edition.
Download a PDF file of the May-June 2021 issue.

The procurement function stands at the precipice of a new decade, one that will be punctuated by endless macro disruptions, massive technological innovation and a new generation of professionals. It’s an era of uncertainty. Institutions created after World War II (such as the United Nations, North American Treaty Organization and the European Union) long provided a stable operating and legal foundation on which to conduct business—but those institutions are now imperiled. Indeed, governments and global institutions once addressed intellectual property protection, R&D, security, financial stability and risk, but now businesses likely must put greater efforts into all of these areas.

As COVID-19 demonstrated, businesses need to build extensible, flexible and resilient supply chains that can adapt locally or globally based on changing political and economic conditions. Yet it’s a challenging time to work in operations because many enterprises seem more focused today on the commercial side of their business, in pursuit of earnings
targets and short-term profit.

Nevertheless, the procurement profession has matured from people who simply ended up there to a new generation of motivated, highly capable difference makers. This new generation is hyper-networked and prone to collective success beyond the four walls of an individual enterprise. They no longer see business as a zero-sum game of information hoarding, posturing and arrogance. Part of this change can be attributed to the fact that procurement organizations are far more diverse and inclusive than they have ever been in the past. This internal change of generations and cultures—as much as external events such as hurricanes or pandemics—should prompt leaders to question whether traditional “best practices” and “best-in-class” templates remain relevant.

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MR

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