This year's survey carried out by AgileBuyer* in partnership with the CNA (French National Procurement Council - formerly the CDAF) reveals buyer-supplier relations in a new light. Risk management and compliance with payment times may still be the number one priority for procurement departments, but the survey reveals a trend that is gaining traction in supplier relationship management: "pampering".
The main concern: risk management
75% of respondents claimed that they had targets this year in terms of managing supplier risks (whether logistics, quality, operational, financial or CSR).
This figure has remained stable compared to previous years, but there is a stark contrast between the public and private sectors. Only 61% of public services have defined objectives to address risks with their suppliers vs. 76% of private companies.
Therefore, the strategic importance of the topic depends on the sector of activity. For example, engineering (84%) and healthcare (80%) are fairly advanced in this particular area, unlike the hospitality and catering industry (64%) and the B2B sector (57%). One reason for this significant difference is that some lines of business are more focused on risk management and subject to various regulations.
Payment times are still in the line of fire
Managing and complying with supplier payment times are objectives for 69% of procurement departments. To be more precise, it is "always" the case (for 45%) and "often" (for 24%).
This year's figure is a record-breaker, which proves that buyers are feeling a greater sense of responsibility towards such cross-functional issues and that France's future Enterprise Act is receiving greater media exposure (the Act will define a framework for payment times and is due to be enacted in the spring).
Pascal Pelon, CPO at Axa France, explains: "At AXA France, the procurement department is now responsible for monitoring payment times, since one of the keys to success is a sound understanding of the suppliers and effective control over the interactions between suppliers and clients."
Supplier relations: heading towards a real partnership?
59% of respondents have taken measures to strengthen the quality of their supplier relationships, especially by selling their needs to their suppliers and giving them greater stimulus to work together.
Olivier Joseph, Senior Procurement Engagement Manager at Microsoft, confirms the trend: "We set up a Microsoft Supplier Program (MSP) several years ago with the aim of reinforcing and prioritising the partnership with certain suppliers."
Companies have actually realised that it is in their best interest to become the "favourite customer", meaning their suppliers' priority. In addition to giving a greater insight into orders with suppliers, the idea is to grow together using such processes as collaborative innovation and co-investment.
Improving procurement, payment times and the quality of buyer-supplier relations is just one of the challenges facing companies this year. To find out more, download the survey (in French) entitled "Trends and top priorities for procurement departments in 2018!"
*Operational procurement consultancy