We have just concluded two days of intense debate and knowledge-sharing from our Asia-Pacific community of Procurement Leaders.
The most noticeable aspect of the event was the degree of optimism that procurement faced the future. Even though the region is facing lockdowns, inflation and an array of supply chain disruptions, functional leaders are looking to a brighter future for procurement.
Three insights that particularly leapt out to me:
40% of organisations were looking to increase the size of their procurement departments in 2022
The last 24-months has been particularly punishing for Asia-based organisations. The pandemic swept across major economies in the region nearly two years ago and lockdowns and restrictions are still causing disruptions in many key cities.
Yet, despite this and the ongoing disruptions in the supply chain, CPOs are looking to expand the size of their teams next year. Interestingly, we heard interest in new specialist roles, digital and relationship managers have been the mainstay of many organisations of the years, but now we are detecting more of an interest in sustainability and risk specialists.
Tap into the collective brain
Guillermo Walsh, Group Head of Procurement, Axiata described how he was encouraging his team to externalise the thinking. The basic notion is: Procurement doesn’t have the answers alone. Other leaders are similarly deploying this approach, not only within the business, but externally as well.
Many participants noted the importance of the supply base in not only providing current supply, but also future requirements. Meeting 80% of your objectives is done through mobilising the supply chain.
The unique situation of Asia-Pacific also enables experimenting with the technology capabilities of the region. As one senior executive noted: “Being based in Asia is fantastic. I pilot everything here. As a region, very digitally aware and very diverse.”
Source sustainably, or don’t source at all
Much like strategic sourcing and category management emerged into the bedrock of the procurement process in the past, APAC-based executives point to sustainability as an essential component of purchasing.
Another director from the manufacturing industry noted that “procurement is best placed to be the sustainability change agent in the business.”
Other organisations see themselves as custodian of supply loops. Fruit producer Dole, for example, where they were experimenting with pineapple fibres to create sustainable packaging.
We are seeing the procurement leaders are facing the new challenges of the coming year with a spring in their step.