As we move towards an unprecedented social and economic paradigm shift, companies are preparing to rethink their business model. In the long term, the Purchasing Manager will have to support their organisation by broadening their scope of activity beyond their previous duties, which until now have been focused on financial issues and risk management. Diego de la Garza, Senior Director of Global Services & Delivery, and Philippe de Grossouvre, EMEA Northern Europe Business Development Director, both representing Corcentric, the publisher of procurement and financial process automation solutions, try to imagine what a Purchasing Manager's job will look like and what tools they will be using in fifty years’ time.
From Purchasing Manager to Value Manager
First of all, the two speakers propose that the position should be renamed: the Purchasing Manager would become the Value Manager. Philippe de Grossouvre was keen to point out: “When you think about it, the title of Purchasing Manager only reflects a small part of the role's real potential. […] I think the role of Purchasing Manager is evolving towards one with a greater range of responsibilities. It will no longer focus exclusively on price, leadership, timing, and quality but will add value to a company's whole product manufacturing process."
This is an idea that is increasingly being shared by the purchasing community. Many decision makers are convinced that the day-to-day tasks of the purchasing department, such as identifying supplier risks, will become more and more automated. When this happens, the Purchasing Manager will have to rethink the role and objectives of their whole department. We can imagine that it will take its place alongside general management in order to support the company in its development.
The Current and Future Roles of a Purchasing Manager
The Role's Historical Objectives
Until now, the Purchasing Manager has had two main roles:
- to contribute to the economic performance of the company by reducing costs, optimising cash flow, etc.
- to manage (or even anticipate) risks, whether operational, legal, financial, or contractual, etc.
When the health crisis is finally over, these two roles will take on their full importance. The Purchasing Manager must now support their organisation during the economic recovery, while securing their own department, with the provision of supplies in the forefront.
The Creation of Value
In the coming years, the Purchasing Manager will gradually move on to new roles to help create value for their organisation.
In particular, they are preparing to:
- Support the company in the transformation of its economic model by promoting agility.
- Contribute to revenue growth by identifying new opportunities, developing existing projects, or even by accelerating the time-to-market
- Stimulate and secure innovation by collaborating with its network of suppliers, or even by developing solutions in collaboration with them.
- Place themselves at the centre of extra-financial rating issues by paying close attention to environmental, social, and governance criteria.
However, before being appointed to these new tasks in the future and joining the management committee, if this has not yet already happened, the Purchasing Manager will have to prove themselves in their traditional role. This is when digital transformation comes into play, providing real support, both operationally and strategically.
New Technologies at the Service of the Purchasing Manager
To allow the Purchasing Manager to evolve in this direction, it seems that it will be essential to rely on new technologies. Diego de la Garza and Philippe de Grossouvre, our two Corcentric experts interviewed in the video, would like to see more software become available that will enable Purchasing Managers to make use of an ever-increasing volume of data and to construct a more transparent and streamlined purchasing process.
We can imagine deployment in two stages by 2070. First, e-purchasing solutions and robotic process automation will significantly streamline the existing purchasing process, freeing buyers from having to do low value-added tasks. Once this first step has been completed, the Purchasing Manager will be able to make use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to guide their routine decision-making.
The Challenges of New Technology
To take advantage of these opportunities, the Purchasing Manager will have to address two issues.
Developing Their Digital Skills
Several studies have confirmed that, within five years, 60% of jobs will require ICT training. Unsurprisingly, the purchasing profession is no exception. Indeed, the Purchasing Manager will have to strengthen their own skills as well as those of their buyers. This will involve both the management of data and the mastery of current technologies (predictive analyses, visualisation, etc.).
Ensuring That These Tools Will Be Used To Full Advantage
As Diego de la Garza reminds us: “Even though we are in the digital age, these are still human enterprises. So, you have to make sure that employees are collaborating, that they associate the correct technology with the service being offered, and that the software is used appropriately. In this way, you will maximize both the potential of a service and the technological solution. […] Nowadays, you can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of data produced by all these integrated systems but you still need people and their skills to use that data in a meaningful way."
These new roles for the Purchasing Manager (now known as the Value Director) will gradually but inevitably have an impact on their purchasing teams and partners. By 2070, the entire ecosystem will have to rely on intelligent collaboration, backed up by technology, to assure success.
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