Workforce Productivity

Biggest Challenges for Global Procurement Leaders and the Increasing Importance of RPA

August 17, 2023

In today's fast-paced business landscape, Global Procurement Leaders are encountering a range of obstacles that go beyond the usual tasks of the traditional procurement concerns of  sourcing and buying. As the demands from stakeholders increase to include sustainability, innovation, and risk management, the role of procurement has become more complex than ever. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the major challenges that Global Procurement Leaders face on a global scale and dive into how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is stepping in to transform procurement practices to address these challenges.

1. Balancing Trade-Off Complexity with Sustainability

The landscape of procurement has undergone a significant transformation, evolving beyond its traditional function of simply sourcing goods and services. Stakeholders now want procurement to align with eco-friendly practices, innovation, and risk reduction. The challenge lies in the growing complexity of procurement decisions, often involving trade-offs between competing priorities. 

Global Procurement Leaders are called to adopt a holistic approach that goes beyond the traditional concepts of procurement. According to the Chief Procurement Officer Leadership Vision 2023 by Gartner, they are required to craft category strategies that not only optimize the sourcing of goods and services but also proactively address emerging concerns.

Sustainability, a critical aspect of modern business practices, demands incorporation into procurement decisions to minimize the impact on the environment. By improving the quality and speed of processes, measuring the errors and traffic, Global Procurement Leaders can design reactive and proactive processes about mitigating the related risks.

2. Enhancing Growth Margins and Reducing Costs

In procurement, the traditional goal of saving costs has expanded to include a more ambitious objective: elevating growth margins through strategic expense management. In other words, it's not just about spending less, but about spending smarter to foster the financial health and expansion of the company. 

This is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) takes center stage. While it optimizes procurement efficiency by automating tasks like data entry and documents validation, it leads to quicker transactions and reduced operational costs. It provides data-driven insights into vendor performance and spending patterns, enabling better supplier relationships and cost-saving opportunities. 

Furthermore, it prevents unnecessary expenses, offering Global Procurement Leaders a powerful toolkit to drive financial growth and efficiency through targeted cost management.

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3. Alleviating Cognitive Overload within Teams

Further, cognitive overload among team members is another common phenomenon in procurement. The rise of trends like the "great resignation" and "quiet quitting" underscores the urgency of addressing burnout and stress. One solution is to redefine procurement roles, narrowing their scope to reduce cognitive overload. Read more about cognitive overload in this blog post

RPA can help in this by automating repetitive and manual tasks, reducing the stress of procurement professionals. By shifting the focus from all-encompassing categories to specific activities, it can streamline workflows and allow team members to channel their energy into skill development and strategic thinking. This redefined approach not only boosts productivity but also enhances the overall capabilities of procurement teams. 

As can be seen on the figure, improving productivity is the top motivation for purchasing software (Source: 2023 Global Software Buying Trends, 4th Edition).

4. Complexity of International Trade Regulations 

When dealing with cross-border operations, the landscape of international trade regulations can appear as a labyrinth of complexities. Successfully navigating those regulations demands not only a thorough grasp of ever-evolving rules and standards but also a keen eye for potential pitfalls. 

International trade laws are subject to frequent revisions, making it challenging for human oversight alone to stay up-to-date. RPA stands as a technological ally for Global Procurement Leaders: By cross-referencing procurement processes against legal stipulations, RPA minimizes the possibility of non-compliance that could lead to legal prerequisites. This proactive approach not only safeguards the company's reputation and financial stability but also contributes to maintaining the trust of international partners.

To conclude

The challenges faced by Global Procurement Leaders in modern procurement are various, extending beyond conventional concerns. RPA emerges as a transformative solution, offering streamlined operations, improved decision-making, and enhanced compliance. By harnessing the power of RPA, Global Procurement Leaders can not only face these challenges but also achieve clear management and happiness among their employees.