The world isn’t changing. It has changed already. And to keep up with the changes and stand out in the job market, which is more and more competitive, procurement leaders must continually improve their knowledge and acquire new skills. In other words, they must stay updated on what is current, innovative and modern to carry out their activities.

But before looking for trends, the leaders must recognize self-knowledge as the key transformation tool. In recent times, behavioral skills, also known as soft skills, are being increasingly required for those who occupy leadership positions, particularly to engage teams that can even work remotely.

Procurement performance goes beyond savings

Deloitte’s 2021 global supply chain survey showed that chief procurement officers (CPOs) are no longer required only to reduce costs and show operational efficiency – although savings still is one of the most significant drivers of business performance in procurement.

In that study, procurement leaders listed what should be the priorities for procurement management in the coming years: operational efficiency, cost reduction, digital transformation, innovation, launching of new products and services, risk management, corporate social responsibility (ESG pillars) and organic growth.

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5 practices of a good procurement leader:

See below the top 5 skills that every procurement leader must know and develop to have an ascending career.

1. Agility

From now on, the mix of an agile mindset with well-designed processes and a procurement management tool will better prepare the supply chain for uncertain scenarios.

The use of agile methodologies makes processes simpler, faster and more flexible, besides helping businesses to save time and money – and also speed up their deliveries with value-added performance.

Therefore, the leader must see agile actions as a mindset – that is, a culture that the whole team must incorporate to make the business more competitive.

2. Relationship with suppliers

With the Covid-19 pandemic, raw material challenges and other supply disruptions have made the relationship with suppliers more important than ever.

Procurement leaders see their suppliers as business partners who help to increase efficiency and decrease process costs.

Besides, focusing on the relationship with suppliers is vital to increase the chances of assuring supply and reducing risks, even in uncertain external scenarios.

Strengthening the relationship with suppliers is one of the priority topics on the CPOs’ agenda, who also see partnerships as an important theme in the pillar of sustainable innovation.

3. Digitization of procurement processes

The search for high performance in procurement, through process digitization and automation, is crucial to stand out in an increasingly competitive market.

This is because digitization in procurement frees professionals from manual and bureaucratic processes, so they can dedicate their time to strategies that bring real results.

The use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and RPA, among other innovative technologies, will be increasingly important to make the procurement area more efficient and productive.

Savings, agility, collaboration and compliance are the main achievements of procurement process automation.

4. Sustainability and risk management

Buyers, besides being responsible for daily actions, have also the mission of developing business partnerships with companies that work in a sustainable way.

The procurement leader must look for conscious partners, engaged with ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) topics.

With regard to risk management, identifying business weaknesses and vulnerabilities is the first step in the development of prevention and monitoring strategies.

Risks associated with suppliers pose a real threat to companies’ reputation. Therefore, supplier management is actually an important issue for organizations.

5. Data-driven procurement management

Deloitte’s 2021 global supply chain survey indicated that data analytics will grow in procurement processes, and improve the performance of procurement areas.

According to that study, organizations are planning to use data analytics for cost optimization (50%), process improvement (48%) and management reporting (45%).

Data-driven procurement management will help businesses to gain insights and create innovative solutions to current challenges.

To leverage an analytical approach in procurement, you must include analysis into decision-making processes – that is, avoid handling the collected data as an isolated item.

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