Procurement at board level – SAPICS Conference report

Some organisation’s Procurement departments are enjoying tenure at board level, the recession has seen to that, said David Smith, Commercial Director for the Department of Work and Pensions, UK.

However, will they remain at board-level once economies begin to recover? Well it depends how well they prove their worth…

We have no money!

While this is currently one of the issues keeping procurement at the top table, it is not alone, said Smith in his keynote paper at the SAPICS Conference held in late July, SmartProcurement was in attendance.

The global economic downturn has brought organisations other issues with which to grapple: supplier vulnerability, understanding the dynamics of your key suppliers, contingency planning, and an increasingly globalising marketplace.

“The last one is challenging,” said Smith. “The recession has made organisations realise that each of them is a link in a very long supply chain. Who are your key suppliers? Are they valuable? Critical? Vulnerable? Who are their suppliers? What are their risks? Which of their customers is more important than your organisation?”

You and your suppliers are functioning in the same troubled market. Can they continue to deliver?

Understand the dynamics of your suppliers, advises Smith. Manage the relationship to understand their supply chain and risks. Develop contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies for your supply chain, your supplier’s supply chain, their supply chain, etc.

To ensure survival, links in the supply chain must develop relationships with the other links.

The economic downturn has presented procurement the opportunity to show how well it can deliver the best value for money. If it proves its place on the board during this depressed time then it will ensure its position and ability to provide even greater bottom-line savings as economies improve.

Record attendance

The SAPICS Conference and Exhibition recorded 1050 delegates this year, the highest in its 32-year history.

Reflecting its commitment to investing in the future of the supply chain profession, SAPICS and conference co-host the Supply Chain Council invited students from various higher education institutions to attend the SAPICS conference. For the first time, six students were invited to create poster presentations, which were well-received by delegates. “Our students created interesting and professional poster presentations, and we applaud their efforts and are grateful to Volition Consulting Services for their support of this initiative,” said SAPICS President Reuben Badana.

This year’s Conference and exhibition had special significance, following hot on the heels of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. “SAPICS’s aim this year was to equip delegates with the skills and knowledge to help them maintain the success and momentum of the World Cup, and reap the rewards of this event long after the last vuvuzela was blown at the final at our magnificent Soccer City. I think we achieved that, and believe delegates left thinking ‘ayoba’,” concluded Badana.

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