The Covid pandemic has created an extreme economic and social environment that has severely disrupted the ways in which we live, work and play. We have seen an acceleration of trends, rapid disruption of long-standing business models and new ways of working.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste”, a quotation usually attributed to Winston Churchill, refers of course to the opportunity to use the crisis to make the case for changes that might otherwise not be readily accepted. So what does it mean for procurement? How will procurement embrace the crisis and seize the opportunities it presents?
‘Breaking the Mould’ was the theme for the 2019 PASA Premier ConfeX. It made the case that to stay relevant, procurement needed to become a problem-solver and solutions-provider. It needed to become faster, more creative and more closely aligned to the needs of its key stakeholders. The Covid crisis has surely made that case for change even more important.
The initial response to the crisis saw many procurement teams pressed to securing vital supplies, pausing non-essential supply lines, and urgently sourcing completely new requirements, all whilst getting a crash introduction to the world of remote working. In the process, they demonstrated to their internal stakeholders that when required they could move fast. Sourcing projects that might previously have taken months were completed in days. Has this demonstration of speed and agility raised the bar permanently for procurement? Will the scale of responsiveness be a new standard for our stakeholders?
Six months in to the crisis, and with the immediate tactical needs becoming more contained, it is time to start thinking ahead about the role of procurement in the ‘new normal’. There is much discussion about building greater supply chain resilience, but what will this mean in practice? Will we be simply pressed to drive more cost out of the business, or will there be greater appreciation of value and risk? What of our sustainable and social procurement agendas? Will they be more important than ever, or will they become secondary issues?
What about procurement itself? How should it be optimally structured to deliver against a new mandate and working environment? What skills and capabilities will be required? What will be the role of technology?
These questions and many more will be explored during the conference, either during the main plenary day on 28th October, or in shorter FOCUS sessions conducted on following days.
I look forward to virtually seeing you there,