'Break out of safety bubble to innovate', urges report

Procurement professionals need to “break out of their safety bubble” when it comes to innovation, according to a report.

While a survey of procurement managers found three quarters of procurement teams were involved in innovation initiatives, fewer than a quarter said they felt innovation required risk taking.

“Evidence suggests that [procurement is] not is not realising its full potential and focusing more on ‘safe innovation’”, the report said.

The survey, published by e-procurement provider Wax Digital, surveyed 100 UK senior managers responsible for procurement. 

When it came to innovation priorities, the report said found supplier relationship management was in first place.

“Building better relationships with the right suppliers, whether existing or new, is clearly uppermost in the mind of procurement professionals,” said Daniel Ball, director of Wax Digital.

Of those surveyed, 57% said supplier relationship management was their top priority, followed by sourcing suppliers for product innovation (49%), improving collaboration (47%) and reducing supply chain risk (45%).

The report found that technology was at the core of procurement innovation.

“Nearly half our sample prioritise new technology to improve collaboration, over 40% seek time saving automation [and] one third want to eliminate paper processes,” the report said.

However, the report also said procurement was prioritising collaborative skills over leadership and competition, and as a result they risked followers rather than leaders.

Of those surveyed a third said collaboration was a desired skill, but only 15% said competitiveness was and only 13% said leadership.

“While procurement shows a desire to lead innovation increasingly in the future, it is still far more likely that they will be a participator,” the report said.

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