This year’s Sourcing Outlook conference brought together procurement and sourcing professionals from all over the Nordic region to discuss global procurement challenges such as digitalisation, sustainability and collaboration.
As the region’s largest procurement event, Sourcing Outlook is all about creating the kind of conversations that drive innovation, better working practices and more effective global supply chain management. Naturally, we were there too.
We ran two round table discussions as well as attending other talks and discussions. Despite the diversity of sectors and working practices represented, the companies we spoke to were united by the global procurement challenges they face. There were some clearly identified headline topics that repeated throughout the event.
Visibility of the global supply chain
A recurring statement was the desire for full visibility of the global supply chain. There is an increasing need to have full transparency of suppliers at every tier of the supply chain. Many companies expressed the need to know exactly where all of the components and products they rely on are coming from, and how their supply chains operate below tier 1. It is impossible to accurately assess risk without this knowledge.
Global supply chain visibility ties into the growing demands for transparency on supplier’s sustainability credentials. For businesses today it is critical to have complete and accurate information not only on where their suppliers are, but also on their ethical practices.
Assurance for subcontractors
A common pain point was the growing need for better assurance mechanisms when dealing with subcontractors. For buyers and suppliers that use workforces that are largely made up of contractors rather than employees, it is essential to know that the people on your sites are qualified, certified and capable. New regulations, such as IR35 in the UK, are calling on operators of supply chains to have better oversight of the people that work for them.
In these cases, third party assessments are one solution, but sometimes a more robust approach, such as our Labour Practices Audits, is required to ensure every tier of the supply chain is compliant and safe.
The event opened with a talk by Volvo about the significant impact that procurement digitalisation is having on their operations. The use of Power BI dashboards are allowing procurement managers to have immediate access to huge amounts of data, but also to create actionable insight much faster.
The speed of this new approach to global supply chain management is, to quote Volvo, “empowering the frontline”. Digitalisation of the supply chain means faster data analysis and therefore much quicker insight and action. The principal benefit of this is freeing senior procurement managers to act in a much more strategic fashion. By spending less time gathering and verifying data, a lot of valuable energy can go towards focusing on how procurement is working towards the wider goals of an organisation.
Buyers all over the world are looking for ways to work with their suppliers in a much more agile, flexible way. The challenges that companies face differ based on their individual risks, scale and location, but there is a lot of value to be had through collaboration and sharing learnings. There are definitely benefits to be reaped from buyers and suppliers working collaboratively to tackle their common challenges, using tools such as the Achilles communities.
Events like the Sourcing Outlook conference really highlight the value of knowledge sharing between industries too. This kind of multi-industry collaboration creates better, more efficient global supply chains.
There is clear evidence that the procurement sector is changing fast on a global scale. Talk to a member of our team about meeting your global procurement challenges today.