Nine best practices for procurement officers to outperform themselves in 2020

Procurement officer
December 19th, 2019
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For procurement officers, 2020 will not be vastly different to previous years. However, you will need to stay on your toes in order to:

  • Contribute to your company's strategic excellence in the most relevant way possible.
  • Make your supplier ecosystem even more effective, as a collective.
  • Improve how your team works together and the productivity of your processes.

Zycus, the procurement technology solutions provider, suggests a general overhaul to help you get ready for the new year, while pinpointing your efforts as much as possible. Implementing these best procurement officer practices now will stand you in good stead over the coming year.

Zycus suggests considering the following two points to prepare for the future and successfully fulfil your role as a procurement officer:

The five aspects of a procurement officer's role

Business partner for sales and marketing teams

Procurement officers maintain close relationships with category managers in order to identify the company's requirements in procurement innovation as early and as accurately as possible. This ongoing, close collaboration influences the procurement policy and how the supplier database is managed. 

Scout for promising transformations and innovations

In addition, procurement officers are able to spot the trends and signals that will be part of the company's future business. They are responsible for identifying the technologies, subsidiaries and stakeholders that are in the best position to provide the company with sources of value in the future.

Promoter of the supplier ecosystem and strategic partners

In a more traditional sense, procurement officers are responsible for negotiating with the company's suppliers in order to get as much out of them as possible. However, the global approach to supplier relationships is new, and this involves integrating services, co-development and innovation without focusing too much on the purchase price.

Manager who requires excellence throughout the procurement process

Procurement digitalisation technologies and the new associated skills are dramatically transforming how the procurement process works. Procurement officers are responsible for fully exploiting the potential of e-procurement with a view to improving productivity, analysis and the procurement strategy.

Internal consultant for every department in the company

As people who closely monitor technological transformations and encourage innovation while managing risks, procurement officers are becoming increasingly involved in the strategic development of their companies. They support various roles in defining pathways to excellence and in growing and/or acquiring the resources needed to pursue them.

Nine best practices for procurement officers to build on for 2020

Evaluate your suppliers using strict criteria

For procurement officers, the ability to evaluate company suppliers is a crucial skill. They need to take five key criteria into consideration before signing a contract with a new supplier:

  • The price level charged
  • Product quality
  • Ability to deliver a given volume
  • Excellence in the supply chain
  • CSR behaviour

Review contracts

Simply signing a supply contract containing terms that benefit the company is not enough. The role of the procurement officer is to personally ensure that the partner fulfils the terms of service throughout the term of the contract. If circumstances change, you can amend supplier contracts to suit, if needed.

Let your key suppliers know you are counting on them

The company's competitiveness, and primarily its ability to meet its deadline and quality commitments, depend on the reliability of the collaboration with first-class suppliers. The procurement officer's role includes maintaining an optimum level of engagement with these key suppliers for the company.

Visit the websites of benchmark suppliers

In addition to regular interactions with their main providers, procurement officers must have independent sources to assess the reliability and potential of each of their partners. Regularly visiting blogs and websites allows companies to build up a picture of their benchmark supplier's news, ambitions and above all, their innovations. 

Spend time away from your files to uncover emerging trends

Companies expect their procurement officers to find out about emerging developments that may lead to innovations at the earliest possible stage. That's why visiting online forums, reading studies and attending conferences or conventions are all on the procurement officer's agenda.

Maintain your knowledge of market prices for the main procurement routes

When companies think about launching a new range or a major product development, the economic equation is clearly a central factor in deciding whether to move forwards. With their knowledge of market prices, procurement officers provide a sense of security in the decision-making process.

On a day-to-day basis, it goes without saying that this detailed knowledge of the size and value of components is an asset when negotiating the best new supply contracts.

Talk to a panel of company salespeople to remind them just how close you are

Products are constantly being developed and priorities change. Procurement officers must ensure they have an up-to-date and accurate picture of the requirements of teams that focus on commercial activities.

One piece of advice for optimising interviews conducted in person by procurement officers, is to ensure a good understanding of the challenges beforehand, so that they can be discussed with the right people.

Work on your negotiation skills

The ability to get as much out of suppliers as possible in terms of deadlines, prices, quality and logistics is a lever that provides a competitive advantage. Consequently, a procurement officer's negotiation skills are particularly valuable and must be maintained.

Give your teams regular reminders

Both you and your team demonstrate the excellence of the procurement department and its ability to sustainably achieve set targets. It's up to you to make sure that challenges are shared by all employees and that the profession's best practices are implemented, especially in relationships with suppliers and internal customers.

In conclusion, you now know about all the challenges faced by procurement officers. What's more, your plan for the next few weeks is all mapped out. Don't fall behind. However, if you want to be ready to face 2020's challenges, you'll have a lot on your plate.

The common theme of these best practices is staying alert and being ready to seize the smallest opportunity, whether it comes from your suppliers or a market innovation. However, you need to do this all year round.  

As the scope of the procurement officer role evolves, the whole procurement department is changing and adapting to today's strategic issues. To fully get to grips with the ins and outs of these developments, take another look at this article from Julie Dang Tran, Managing Director of Manutan France: Procurement: The five aspects of transformation.

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