Why buyers 'face resistance' to transformation efforts

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
30 September 2022

Procurement professionals “don’t believe that the status quo can endure in a fast-changing world” but they “face resistance” to transformation efforts, according to research.

RS’s 2022 Indirect Procurement Report found 60% of UK survey respondents felt confident they had the opportunity to drive change, but 43% viewed implementing change as “quite or very difficult”.

Resistance to change, limited resources, the wide range of stakeholder needs, and recovery from Covid were among the difficulties cited by respondents.

“There’s no doubt from this year’s survey that indirect procurement professionals don’t believe that the status quo can endure in a fast-changing world,” said the report. 

“But they face resistance, so how can they go about influencing or even leading change? By using their unique position in organisations to act as an educator of standards, spelling out what the red lines of a business should be.”

The top challenge over the next 12 months was inflation and higher costs, cited by 82%, followed by supply chain disruption (76%), global political uncertainty, and managing risk (both 63%). Recovering from the pandemic was at 33% in the UK, compared to 48% in the Asia-Pacific region.

Reduced operational budgets (53%) and the need to reduce inventory costs (47%) were the top two business pressures, while delivering annualised cost savings (55%) was the top day-to-day challenge.

The report cited five actions procurement professionals should take:

1. Facing up to strategic challenges.

2. Leading transformation and change.

3. Staying sustainable in a fast-changing world.

4. Optimising supplier management.

5. Taking technology to the next level.

“It’s clear that, as the pressure rises, transformation will be the watchword for MRO procurement,” said the report. “There is a need to embrace change, take up new technologies, and digitalise processes to improve efficiency and transparency. There will be considerable obstacles in some cases, not least from financial pressures, but standing still means you cannot move forward.”

The research formed the basis of a discussion in a webinar.

Emma Botfield, managing director at RS, told the webinar: “Procurement professionals face numerous strategic challenges but actually what we’re hearing is they’re perfectly placed to drive change and transformation in the business.

“While they accept the challenging business environment, sustainability is even more apparent and ESG is a key priority.”

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