Future Of Procurement: People Are Our Most Valuable Asset

Marcell Vollmer

A digital transformation is taking hold around the world, and new business models are transforming entire industries. We are more connected than ever, and social media is redefining the way we interact with the world. We are smarter, armed with more information that can be accessed in real time with the click of a button or swipe of a finger. Globalization and digitization have transformed our lives. And the same technologies that we use as consumers have made their way into the office and are fueling new ways of getting work done.

In procurement, for instance, business networks and process automation are significantly changing the way companies manage everything from sourcing and orders to invoices and payments. Buyers and suppliers are discovering, connecting, and collaborating more efficiently than ever and tapping new markets that were previously out of reach.

In automating large portions of operational and tactical processes, less transactional and administrative work needs to be done. But what happens to the people performing these manual tasks today? When procurement becomes more strategic, the people driving it become more strategic, too. Rather than simply processing purchase orders and tracking savings, procurement professionals can focus on the value and impact they can create for the lines of business and customers.

They can work alongside suppliers to drive innovations and new products, like coffee tabs, which were invented in this manner. They can tackle risk management and create a sustainable supply chain.

But this doesn’t just happen. Performing more strategic work often requires a different skill set. And companies need to define a process through which they can be developed.

They must, for instance, define new tasks and provide access to training through which team members can acquire the skills and information needed to perform them with success. But beyond this, they need to paint a vision for the future of the function and the role that employees will play in driving it.

In a workforce dominated by millennials, this is critical. Today’s procurement professionals don’t want jobs. They want missions. And they need to be engaged and tasked with making a difference. Companies that succeed in doing this will, like the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world, disrupt things in a creative way that leads to real transformation.

As robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence take on more complex tasks, jobs will change forever. Learn what that may mean in The Digitalist’s infographic on Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Marcell Vollmer

About Marcell Vollmer

Marcell Vollmer is the Chief Digital Officer for SAP Ariba (SAP). He is responsible for helping customers digitalize their supply chain. Prior to this role, Marcell was the Chief Operating Officer for SAP Ariba, enabling the company to setup a startup within the larger SAP business. He was also the Chief Procurement Officer at SAP SE, where he transformed the global procurement organization towards a strategic, end-to-end driven organization, which runs SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass solutions, as well as Concur technologies in the cloud. Marcell has more than 20 years of experience in working in international companies, starting with DHL where he delivered multiple supply chain optimization projects.