Procurement's journey

[April 2014 print edition]
I was lucky enough in March to not only attend but also chair one of the three days of ProcureCon Canada 2014. The conference, the inaugural ProcureCon event in Canada, addressed several topics, ranging from spend analysis to sustainability to e-Procurement.
As part of my chairing duties I also addressed attendees and spoke about issues and trends within procurement, as I see them. During my talk I said that I’ve admired the strides the field has taken in a short time. Although some organizations once viewed procurement as a backroom function, that’s hardly the case now. Leaders in the field now boast influence at the highest levels, and have helped shape the profession into a driving force within their organizations.
I also noted how procurement has shifted towards the strategic, rather than remaining solely tactical. This has meant a higher profile and increased visibility, leading to collaboration with other groups, whether it’s HR, travel, marketing or finance. To meet this demand, procurement has worked to learn the language and culture of these groups.
Procurement practitioners now need new skills and knowledge. If procurement wants to convince decision makers of its strategic nature, it must show return on investment. To do so, it must hunt for and develop talent in a wide range of skills outside of the procurement silo. That means getting accustomed to providing input and contributions across an enterprise—an opportunity as well as a challenge.
Listening to other conference speakers, I noticed how often the concept arose of procurement as a journey. The destination, the speakers seemed to agree, was less important than the steps along the road. Hopefully, through attending conferences and with the information within our pages, we help you along that journey.