As procurement teams are tasked with using their position at the interface between the business and its suppliers to deliver on their organisations’ strategic goals, certain roles within those teams are growing in importance. Here, we look at the three of the crucial titles as we move towards 2023, covering their key skill requirements, their benefits to the organisation, and what to look out for.
As we barrel through the 2020’s with already a quarter of the decade behind us in which we have been besieged by crisis after crisis, the role of procurement is evolving at breakneck speed. Though the traditional skill set covering negotiation, savings, and compliance remains ever-present, new KPIs are emerging as a result of this challenging business landscape.
Sustainability, resilience, transformation, and growth responsibilities are mounting within procurement functions across the globe as the world’s leading enterprise organisations look to deliver on their strategic goals with the help of suppliers and partners. As a result, procurement is having to transform from order taker to value creator as it is tasked with orchestrating between the business and its extended ecosystem.
As this transformation takes place, new roles within the procurement function are rising in importance. Here we give our predictions for the hottest job titles in procurement as we move into 2023 and beyond, and look at how PLTs should be measuring, motivating, and rewarding the success of the team members in these roles.
Already established as one of the hottest jobs in procurement right now, the role of Digital Procurement Lead has automation, integration, and analysis at its heart.
Successful candidates will be tech savvy, demonstrate a deep understanding of the rich canvas of digital procurement solutions available to the market, and have the ability to translate the strategic needs of their organisations into the appropriate tech stack proposals to achieve enterprise-wide goals.
This role helps you automate repeatable tasks to improve efficiency and free up valuable resources to focus instead on the work that creates value to the organisation. A digital procurement lead will help you optimise the technology that empowers your people and underpins your processes. In a challenging business environment, this leader will help you navigate the complexities of the procurement function through technology, data, and processes, and will keep a vigilant eye on progress, enabling you to course correct when goals are off track.
Though a good Digital Procurement Lead has a keen eye for detail, don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. And while an eye for data is a must, a dashboard doesn’t indicate that any action is being taken – no matter how real-time the data or deep the insights. Ensure the focus remains on action and improvement.
An evolution of the more typical Key Supplier Manager or Supplier Relationship Manager role, the Supplier Collaboration Manager puts collaboration, innovation, and mutual value at the heart of supplier relationships, using these measures to guide the relationship and assess its performance.
As such, they will place less of a focus on hard negotiation and instead be skilled in collaborative work such as joint business plans, a shared vision, and shared goals with a group of your key suppliers; soft skills are a must here.
Your Supplier Collaboration Managers will build deep, transparent, and trusted ‘customer of choice’ relationships that will help you mitigate risk and ensure resilience in turbulent times. These close, collaborative relationships also grant access to preferential pricing and priority access to the existing IP and future innovation potential within your supply base.
While the Supplier Collaboration Manager will be responsible for dealing with suppliers on a day to day basis, don’t let relationships get bogged down in operational performance and lose sight of the strategic needs of the organisation. Ensure that these relationships are underpinned by value trackers that relate directly to what the procurement leadership team and the enterprise as a whole is trying to achieve.
A strategic leader, your VP Sustainable Procurement will ensure that your procurement strategy is closely aligned with the executive leadership team's sustainability strategy. As recognition mounts that an organisation can never be truly sustainable without its suppliers, this role will be pivotal in the organisation’s ability to meet its ESG commitments. With mounting regulatory pressure to actively demonstrate positive progress on climate change and human rights (particularly in the EU), we predict that this momentum will only grow as we speed ever closer towards 2030 sustainability targets. Supplier diversity, fair living wage in the supply chain, supply chain human rights and scope 3 value chain GHG emissions reductions are some of the critical areas to be addressed by this role, so leaders in this field should leverage the skills and experiences of their Digital Procurement Leads and Supplier Collaboration Managers to ensure these areas are centralised, digitised, and tracked so that progress can be proven.
As the regulatory landscape expands, having tight control on initiatives impacted by your VP Sustainable Procurement will ensure you mitigate and manage risk – not just to brand or reputational risk, but increasingly financial risk, too.
Be it customers, investors, or regulators, there are myriad stakeholders that care deeply about your ESG performance, and whilst it is known that you can directly control what is in your sphere of influence, your ability to control or influence that which sits outside of your organisation will depend heavily on the talents and abilities of your sustainable procurement team.
Remember that action beats inaction, every time; measuring your scope 3 GHG emissions, for example, is not the same as improving them. Initiate Active, Collaborative Relationships aligned to carbon reduction projects in carbon intensive categories as quickly as possible. And where the category is unsustainable, leverage supplier innovation to transform the category.
Read Gartner’s research note on Reducing GHG Emissions through Supplier Innovation here.
What gets measured gets managed, and what gets rewarded gets managed well. Ensure you’re establishing the right set of KPIs and reward systems for your team so you can ensure you’re driving the right behaviours from the outset. These may include:
Role: Digital Procurement Lead
Resources: Digital-savvy professionals with deep experience of data, automation, and procurement tech
Reward: Remunerated, rewarded, and recognised based on efficiencies, value driven, and process identification & optimisation
Role: Supplier Collaboration Manager
Resources: Top performing Key Supplier Managers, Supplier Relationship Managers, Supplier Collaboration Managers, who are recognised as best-in-class at creating ‘customer of choice’ relationships.
Reward: Remunerated, rewarded, and recognised based on achieving an agreed numbers of ACRs (Active, Collaborative Relationships) and on a supplier innovation pipeline, including reduction of proof of concept duplication, transformational incremental innovations, and new revenue stream introduction
Role: VP Sustainable Procurement
Resources: Top performing sustainability or procurement leaders
Reward: Remunerated, rewarded, and recognised based on a set of supplier sustainability KPIs such as supply base diversity and human rights credentials, supply chain emissions reduction targets, number of suppliers engaged in a given sustainability programme, number of suppliers with CDP targets in place, or number of emissions reductions projects with high-emitting suppliers
There’s been an explosion of procurement technology providers over the last 5 years – a trend that shows little sign of slowing down in the coming years. Your team needs to act correspondingly; as new business KPIs become the norm in these turbulent times, enterprise executive committees are increasingly examining their resourcing strategies to ensure that targets are met.
Get ahead of the curve and start thinking about what your team needs to look like in the next six, 12, and 18 months to ensure you are best placed to meet the demands of your organisation.