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Is procurement close to its innovation pinnacle?

We surveyed 100 UK senior procurement professionals for the Procurement Innovation Pathway report and the results reveals that procurement is innovating and wants to do so more in the future.


The research identified that a significant amount of participants not only believe innovation is pivotal to their own department’s success, but are actively pursuing numerous business innovation goals too. Innovation became more popular amongst procurement professionals as 86% want to be part of all ongoing product innovations and service departments across the business. These statistics show a very positive trend, but we also found some behaviors, such as risk aversion, that do seem to counter these good intentions amongst procurement leaders of leading change.

The research creates a dilemma as to whether procurement professionals are armed with the right skills and attitudes to become innovation leaders, or whether in fact they are more likely to be contributors, rather than leaders from the front.

Only 27% of research participants said that they were leading innovation where as 76% said they were involved in innovation initiative, which suggests that currently procurement is more comfortable with being an innovation contributor rather than a leader.

Procurement’s traditional thinking is also revealed by their priorities, where willingness to take risks and R&D investments appear at the bottom of the list. Again it shows a counter intuitive response to the headline findings of our research that show good intentions to innovate within procurement.

So, what is holding procurement back?

Procurement clearly understands what is needed in order to achieve innovation success, such as the ability to be agile so the business can react quickly and effectively. However, there is still some disparity in the sort of skill sets that procurement needs to lead innovation.

Our research revealed that only 10% of respondents were comfortable challenging business objectives, 14% prioritize competitiveness and only 18% nurture leadership skills within their team.
This demonstrates that some of the hurdles procurement has to face may be put there by procurement itself.

The desire to win?

Procurement has definitely changed over the last decade and is innovating, but is it heading in the right direction? Procurement as a function doesn’t usually come across as competitive or driven to win, but innovation is often connected to growth which a lot of the time involves competitive behavior and risk taking. This indicates that procurement may have to step out of its comfort zone and start challenging the norm in order to successfully innovate.

Featured In: Spend Matters

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