15 March 2007 | Paul Snell
Most buyers believe now is the best ever time to be working in procurement, according to the latest SM poll of 100 procurement professionals.
The findings support comments made by Ben Schmittzehe, managing director of sourcing consultancy The Sustainomics Group. He told delegates at the CIPS "Trading with China, Brazil and India" conference in London this month: "The appetite to work with procurement has never been higher. There has never been a better time to be in purchasing."
And 88 per cent of the buyers surveyed said the profession had "never had it so good".
"Purchasing is now reaping the benefits of two decades of hard work and innovation," said Peter Easterby, European sourcing specialist at the transport arm of Honeywell. "Businesses are now realising the value that we bring to the company strategy and that a strong procurement function is a must."
Most buyers agreed that the increased profile of procurement was presenting more opportunities than previously.
"Professionals are receiving recognition at levels we have never seen before and this can only be good for the profession," said Jon Roberts, co-located contracts team leader at NATO Eurofighter & Tornado Management Agency.
The increased use of emerging markets, the chance to drive innovation and the opportunity to work in different sectors were cited as new benefits. But not all buyers believe these are procurement's halcyon days. One private sector purchaser said: "Things are not much different from 10 years ago. They have moved on but the same challenges and opportunities exist."
Buyers from the public sector were dispirited by the strict regulations imposed on them, the heavy focus on reducing headcounts and the lower pay compared with the private sector.
And while no buyers admitted to missing less competition and a lower profile, there was a little nostalgia for the "good old days".
"It is a long time since I received a bottle of whiskey or a slap-up meal down a Berni Inn. Those days seem to have gone," said Guy Allen, director of sourcing and supply services at Fujitsu.