Reducing costs has been number one in the survey since 2011 ©  Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images
Reducing costs has been number one in the survey since 2011 © Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images

Cost-cutting knocked off CPO priority top spot

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
30 April 2021

“Driving operational efficiency” has knocked “reducing costs” from top spot of CPO priorities for the first time in the 10-year history of an influential survey.

Deloitte’s CPO Survey 2021 saw reducing costs pushed into second place, with digital transformation making up the top three priorities.

The survey, first launched in 2011, found innovation at number four and introducing new products/services at number five.

Deloitte said innovation’s ranking “reflected the need to up-level internal operations and improve supply chain transparency and supplier collaboration more broadly”.

The report said corporate social responsibility saw the largest increase of any priority, up 22% on 2019, and was 75% more likely to be measured by high performers.

Jennifer Brown, principal, Deloitte Consulting, said: “This year has demonstrated the importance of bringing CPOs into higher level C-suite conversations. They bring significant value to the table — whether it's in navigating risk, helping realise digital transformation, or furthering corporate responsibility initiatives.”

The report said CPOs had been moving towards roles as “transformation catalysts and intelligent strategists”, with high-performing CPOs spending almost 15% more of their time as strategists.

Unsurprisingly, 70% of respondents said risk had increased over the last year, with 56% saying key suppliers had gone bankrupt or been severely hampered. Two-fifths (41%) had to expedite shipping to keep supply lines running.

More than two-thirds (70%) of CPOs believed they had good visibility into risk in tier one suppliers but only 15% had visibility into lower tiers, while just 26% were formally tracking risk in their supply base.

The report included an “agility index” that found high-performing procurement organisations were 10 times more likely to have fully-deployed robotic process automation and 18 times more likely to be using artificial intelligence.

Ryan Flynn, principal at Deloitte Consulting, said: “CPOs are uniquely positioned to help their organisations navigate such a historically disruptive time and build the agility required to thrive amidst external forces like the Covid-19 pandemic that pose significant challenges for the global economy. The time for CPOs to stand up and help create change is now.”

CPO priorities in 2021:

1. Driving operational efficiency

2. Reducing costs

3. Digital transformation

4. Innovation

5. Introducing new products/services

6. Enhancing risk management

7. Enhancing corporate social responsibility

8. Expanding organically

9. Expanding by acquisition

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