Five ways procurement can lead through disruptive innovation

The procurement function constantly has to adapt to challenges brought on by a fast-paced changing world.

Today, it is innovations such as blockchain and artificial intelligence that are forcing organisations to adapt quickly, preferably with little disruption and cost.

Speaking during a CIPS webinar, Bill Michels, vice president of operations for CIPS Americas, gave some of his top tips on how procurement can take the lead through disruption and stay ahead in a rapidly changing world.

1. Think the unthinkable

Bringing innovation, flexibility and speed to the supply chain is all about strategic procurement.

“You want to challenge things and look out of the box – what could you change, what would you change if you could change it?" Michels askaed. “Would you change the process or would you change the sign?”

2. Encourage collaboration 

In a digitalised, globalised economy, you can’t effectively manage a global supply chain without internal and external collaboration. 

Michels said: “If you don’t have collaboration then you just have a standalone business and don’t have a lot of opportunity to share. Sharing cross-functionally and sharing with other suppliers is great.”

3. Be agile

Companies are now prioritising simplicity and visibility, designing networks that can be easily reconfigured as circumstances dictate.

“When innovations come through everything is going to change so you have to get used to being agile and flexible,” Michels explained. I have been to a couple of conferences where the theme of all the speakers was agility and flexibility in the supply chain is required right now.”

4. Think like a data scientist 

It is critical that CPOs analyse new and growing sources of information to decide which project and transactions need human interaction – and which ones don’t.

“You want to think like a data scientist and use data, you want to present your arguments with data,” he said. “One of the things that I tend to see with procurement people is that they want to work off their functional strategies but you have to show senior management data.”

5. Manage innovation

Nurturing an innovative mindset takes time, resource and a clear structure. “It's really a challenge to manage innovation because it doesn’t happen on its own, you have to drive innovation.”

Read more: How procurement can enable innovation

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