The changing landscape of Nordic procurement: our takeaways from the EBG Outlook Summit

12 Nov 2018
Article by Achilles

This year’s EGB Outlook Summit in Stockholm brought together procurement professionals from all over the world to talk about future proofing sourcing and procurement strategies, with a key focus on the Nordic region.

High-profile industry events like this are important for a number of reasons. The world of procurement is often complex, full of challenges, opportunities and new developments. Convening with peers is a great way to share knowledge and insight and gain a picture of the issues affecting the whole industry.

These events also deepen our expertise, which in turn helps both buyers and suppliers operate more effectively within their supply chains. By using the knowledge gained at these events to inform our data scoping and planning, we are better placed to help our clients identify emerging trends and react quickly to challenges.

This year was no different. Here are our key takeaways from the event and the ongoing dynamics of procurement in the Nordic region.

Hot topics

Among the speakers at the EGB Outlook Summit were representatives of IKEA, ISS, Scania AB and Sony. Much of the discussions that took place centred on the developments within procurement being driven by technology, economics and social change.

The event focused in on four big topics:

Sustainability

Supply chains are energy intensive, particularly if they cross borders and oceans. How to incorporate sustainability into procurement processes has emerged as a big topic of debate in the last few years.

Making global supply chains more sustainable means dealing with regulations, policies, changing demographics, tech innovations and evolving consumer preferences. It also requires suppliers and buyers to work together towards shared goals, such as those set out by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Digitalisation

Increasing digitalisation of every aspect of the business process is having seismic effects on how companies manage their supply chains. As technology continues to remove the need for employees to perform administrative tasks and changes the way we store and share data, it will create opportunities within purchasing.

Creating value

There was a lot of talk at EGB Outlook about how companies across a range of industries are changing the way they measure their performance and purchasing. The two main reasons behind this shift are cost saving and value creation.

Many companies are facing a choice between focusing on cost reduction or investing in value creation – for example, by improving their supply market intelligence.

Collaboration   

There is a feeling among both buyers and suppliers that the former need to be more agile in the way they work and collaborate with their suppliers and other organisations. This is, however, much easier said than done, particularly for larger organisations with complex supply chains.

Sustainability and collaboration: two key procurement trends

At Achilles, we are always learning and improving our knowledge base so we can provide a more comprehensive service to our clients. As a leader in supply chain and procurement, our team has extensive expertise and insight to share with companies across the procurement space.

In particular, we can help both buyers and suppliers integrate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their supply chains and collaborate more effectively with every company they work with. As such, the two Summit discussions on these subjects were of particular interest and value to us:

Engaging with sustainability

The UN’s 17 SDGs are a set of benchmarks that, among other things, set out how companies can increase their corporate sustainability. For those involved in procurement, the SDGs could have major implications for the way supply chains are managed globally. Building sustainability into procurement is no small undertaking. For example, our research shows that 70% of suppliers are not currently measuring their carbon emissions, which presents significant challenges to organisations looking to ensure their monitor and enhance the sustainability of their supply chains.

We recommend that companies looking to engage with the sustainability agenda set out in the SDGs follow five key steps:

  1. Make sure you fully understand the SDGs and get yourself and your staff training to plug any gaps
  2. Thoroughly review your supply chain processes and partners to see where you need to implement changes
  3. Create an SDG implementation plan and set internal goals
  4. Introduce sustainability initiatives such as specific training and reporting for suppliers into your supply chain
  5. Create annual sustainability reports and make them readily available

Effective collaboration

Collaboration is at the heart of what Achilles does. Our communities bring suppliers and buyers together and help them to work more productively. By performing our own trusted audits on suppliers, we not only make sure the right companies start talking, we also help to reduce the costs of procurement. We save the UK utilities industry £30 million a year in supplier qualification costs alone.

Suppliers and buyers want to collaborate in a better way. EGB Outlook provided further evidence of that. By making sure that the kind of information needed to make informed procurement decisions easily available, buyers can choose to do business with pre-qualified suppliers that are right for them. At the same time, suppliers have the opportunity to potentially start conversations with larger buyers.

The world of procurement is changing, and not just in the Nordic region. At Achilles, we not only have focused regional insight, but also global expertise and insight into the forces affecting supply chains. Whatever your business, we will have a solution that helps you get the best out of your supply chain activities and relationships.

See how Achilles can help you manage your procurement and supply chain processes more effectively, and to sign up to one of our events, contact a member of our team today


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