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A CPO asked me last year if we could put on an event where the round-table discussions were used to identify answers to specific challenges that were common to procurement leaders. Well here it is.

The round-tables will see groups of 7-8 discussing the questions at their table with the outputs of their discussions then being shared with the other tables during a cross-room discussion led by a facilitator.

The outputs of the discussions will be captured and summarised for presentation to the entire group during the closing plenary session and in a powerpoint deck for all participants to take away.
The round-table topics and questions are:

1. Procurement Agility

In an increasingly fast-paced world, where procurement has often been perceived as a roadblock (rightly or wrongly), the need for procurement to become more ‘agile’ is high on the agenda for most CPO’s.

Q. What do we mean by procurement agility?
Q. What tactics and strategies can we employ to increase our speed to serve, while still ensuring appropriate governance?

2. Procurement and Supply as a Competitive Advantage

Delivering our organisations a competitive advantage should be one of the prime drivers for procurement leaders. Typically this has been done through cost reduction.

Q. How can we ensure that our efforts not only translate into a competitive advantage, but are recognised as doing so?
Q. In what other ways, such as driving revenue growth, can we contribute to competitive advantage?

3. Effective Supplier Relationship Management

Having an effective SRM programme is essential if we are going to unlock greater value from our supply base.

Q. How do we develop a programme that provides strategic direction, builds partnership and unlocks innovation, as opposed to being a glorified contract management programme?
Q. How do we conduct effective SRM with limited resources? Can we get the business involved?
Q. How do we build value adding relationships with monopolistic/duopolistic suppliers, when you are the price taker due to low volume and there is limited competition due to low number of players in the market?
Q. How do we become a customer of choice?

4. Are we going backwards and how do we move forward?

There is a fairly widely held view that procurement has gone backwards in recent years in regard to how it is perceived by the C-suite, with validation primarily returning to measures of price down/cost out only?

Q. How much truth is there in this statement?
Q. As the procurement function matures within an organisation, how do we continue to add (and be recognised for adding) value as savings become harder to achieve?
Q. How do we measure the value we bring to the business for contributions other than savings or cost avoidance?

5. Procurement as a Strategic Function

Moving procurement from a tactical to a strategic function, where procurement influences business strategy, rather than being purely reactive, has been on the CPO agenda for years. However, many procurement teams struggle to make this leap.

Q. How do we develop an execution strategy that will enable us to move from a tactical to strategic function?
Q. Where and how can procurement influence business strategy?

6. The rise of the machines – When and how will procurement be affected?

As we have hear continuously, automation, digitisation, AI and RPA (whatever you wish to call it) is coming and many of our traditional roles are going to become redundant as the machines take over. Yet to date, the uptake of procurement automation has been relatively slow.

Q. Why have we been slow to adopt procurement automation, are we reaching a tipping point, and when, if at all, do we see these predictions coming true?
Q. What roles are likely to disappear and what new roles/skills are going to be required?

7. Innovate or Die

Innovation has been one of the big buzzwords in recent times. We must innovate or we will be steamrollered by forces beyond our control.

Q. Where are we looking for innovation? From our supply base? Internally? What kinds of innovation?
Q. How do we quantify or measure the value of innovation?
Q. How can we work to develop our teams and transform them into innovators?

8. What skills and competencies are we going to need in the 2020s?

There is a general recognition that the landscape for procurement is changing. We hear often about operating in a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), where advances in technology, new business models, politics, international relations and the way we interact (to name but a few) seem to change on a daily basis.

Q. What skills and competencies will we, as procurement or business leaders, need to develop to Future Proof ourselves?
Q. What skills and competencies will be required to future proof our teams?
Q. Do we recruit them, or can we train them?

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