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Driving greater results in a new manufacturing procurement era

The manufacturing sector has witnessed a profound transformation in procurement practices since the onset of the pandemic. The disruption has catalyzed a re-evaluation of supply chain strategies, emphasizing resilience, agility and technological integration. 

Procurement leaders must adapt to these changes to drive greater results within their teams and organizations. This article will explore strategies for continual upskilling, the latest technologies and integrating these technologies into procurement processes to achieve greater results.

The evolution of procurement post-pandemic

The pandemic has reshaped the procurement landscape in several key ways:

  • Digital acceleration: There has been a rapid adoption of digital tools to maintain operations amidst restrictions, with technologies such as AI, machine learning and cloud-based solutions becoming integral to procurement functions - allowing teams to automate routine tasks, providing actionable insights and enhancing decision-making capabilities.

As Jacob Larsen, former Director of Digital Procurement at Maersk outlined, “The role of procurement technology is becoming more and more important. And the interesting part, but also a frightening one for some people, is that this is not going away. If as a procurement team or you as a CPO are not taking charge of this development, eventually someone else will do so. 

Thus, it’s one of those things you have to embrace and take charge of. And when you do that, it can be a fantastic ride. You can multiply the impact of your procurement organization by applying technology in the right way.”

  • Procurement outsourcing: This has emerged as a prominent global trend, reflecting organizations' strategic shift towards optimizing their procurement functions by leveraging external expertise. This trend is driven by the need to achieve cost reductions, enhance operational efficiency and focus on core business activities amidst increasingly complex global supply chains.
  • Supply chain resilience: The vulnerability of global supply chains to disruptions has led to a renewed focus on building resilience through diversification and risk management strategies.
  • Local sourcing: To mitigate risks associated with global supply chains, there has been a shift towards localizing suppliers, which also supports community development and reduces carbon footprints.
  • Sustainable and ethical sourcing: The pandemic has heightened awareness of the importance of sustainability and ethical practices within supply chains, prompting manufacturers to reassess their sourcing criteria. Procurement leaders are increasingly integrating sustainability into procurement decisions, aligning with broader organizational goals for environmental and social responsibility.

The evolution of procurement’s role in enterprise business

The role of procurement is under the spotlight and is in the unique position of having the full attention of the C-suite and the Board - with a mandate to create major change within organizations. As procurement practices change, so too will the way its teams and leadership operate. What does this look like?

From cost-cutting to strategic partnering: Procurement has evolved from a function primarily focused on cost-cutting to one that is a strategic partner to the business. It now plays a critical role in operational efficiency, supply chain management and cost-effectiveness, contributing to business growth and success

Talent development and upskilling: The talent gap in procurement is a growing concern, with a need for upskilling and reskilling to adopt new technologies and address evolving market dynamics. In a recent BCG survey of global C-suite and board-level executives, 30% of respondents said that attracting and retaining talent is a top five issue impacting procurement. According to a study by SAP, only 41% of procurement teams possess the skills and abilities required to adopt new technologies. 

As a recent McKinsey report outlined, “To thrive in the future, procurement needs a new breed of professionals who possess a diverse skill set…[combining] the traditional procurement tool kit and category expertise with a new set of capabilities in advanced data analytics, sustainability, and strategic thinking.” Procurement leaders must be focusing on creating a talent development plan that supports the overall business strategy.

Risk management and compliance: With globalized supply chains, managing risk has become more important than ever. Procurement is expected to play a major role in supporting organizational agility by building sustainable, resilient supply networks and ensuring compliance with expanding regulatory requirements.

Supplier collaboration and innovation: Procurement is moving beyond transactional relationships to strategic partnerships, fostering collaboration and innovation. This often means consolidating vendors to enable better relationship management. This shift is driven by the need to build resilient supply chains, drive innovation and collectively respond to market dynamics.

Data-driven decision making: Procurement teams are leveraging data and analytics to drive work prioritization and deliver superior procurement experiences. This shift towards a data-driven approach is enabling procurement to provide complete visibility to stakeholders and make better informed decisions.

Focus on customer-centricity: Procurement is becoming more user-friendly by delivering seamless procurement experiences and business compliance. It is increasingly focused on driving supplier performance and taking partner relationships to a new level, thereby becoming third-party centric.

The role of procurement in enterprise businesses has expanded significantly, becoming more strategic, resilient and technologically advanced. It is now seen as a key driver of value creation, innovation and sustainability across the supply chain, with a strong focus on strategic partnerships, risk management and talent development.

Driving greater results with procurement teams

To capitalize on these changes and drive superior outcomes, procurement leaders must focus on the following areas:

Professional development and upskilling

The rapid technological advancements and changing market dynamics necessitate continuous learning and skill enhancement for procurement professionals. Leaders should:

  • Foster a learning culture and promote digital literacy: Encourage a culture of continuous learning and curiosity within the team. It will also be crucial to ensure that all team members are comfortable with technology and can leverage it effectively. This can be achieved through regular training sessions, workshops and access to online courses.
  • Invest in role-based training: Tailor training programs to specific roles within the procurement team to ensure that each member has the skills necessary to excel in their position.

Staying on top of the latest procurement manufacturing trends

Procurement leaders must stay abreast of the latest trends to maintain a competitive edge. These include upping the ante on digital technologies that streamline operations, improve data analysis and enhance supplier collaboration. This should be in tandem with developing more strategic partnerships with suppliers to foster collaboration, innovation and mutual growth. 

Moreover, sustainability isn’t going anywhere. Through initiatives such as strategic supplier engagement and sustainability-focused sourcing, procurement leaders have the power to significantly influence their organizations' environmental impact. They will be an integral cog for success in achieving net-zero targets.

Incorporating skills and technology for better results

To integrate the latest skills and technology into procurement processes, leaders should:

  • Assess and align with business goals: Evaluate current procurement practices and align them with the organization's strategic objectives, ensuring that any technology adoption (and existing tech) supports these goals.
  • The right tech, not a lot of tech: Choose technologies that not only fit the organization's needs but also offer ease of integration with existing systems.
  • Implement change management: Prepare the team for technological changes through effective communication, training and support to ensure smooth adoption.
  • Leverage data analytics: Utilize data analytics tools to gain insights into spending patterns, supplier performance and market trends, enabling data-driven decision-making.


Procurement leaders have the opportunity to redefine their strategies and enhance their team's capabilities. By focusing on professional development, staying informed about the latest trends, and effectively incorporating new skills and technologies, procurement teams can deliver better results and add significant value to their manufacturing organizations. Embracing these changes will not only drive procurement success but also contribute to the overall resilience and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector.

If you’re looking for a source-to-pay partner to solve for enterprise process inefficiencies across indirect procurement, get in touch with DSSI today.