July 15, 2014, 1:18 PM

Procurement pros want help

More than half of the procurement executives surveyed at an industry conference said they had insufficient staff.

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An increase in the responsibilities of procurement staffs, including managing supplier relations, is leaving many corporate procurement departments without sufficient people, a new study says.

The study was based on a survey of 70 procurement professionals at the ProcureCon Indirect East conference in Orlando, FL, in February. Respondents represented more than a dozen industries, including retailers and consumer goods manufacturers, aerospace and defense manufacturers, telecommunications companies and educational institutions. Their annual spend on indirect goods, or products and services used to operate their businesses like office supplies, maintenance equipment and financial services, ranged from under $200 million to more than $5 billion.

When asked if they felt their procurement teams were sufficiently staffed, 56% said no, 34% yes, and the rest were unsure.

The study notes that procurement itself is shifting into a more strategic role within companies, moving from finding the lowest cost for purchased goods to finding what a company needs to accomplish its goals. At the center of such transformations is the use of Internet-based procurement systems that enable procurement professionals to spend less time finding products and processing orders, and more time building strong relationships with suppliers.

“Years ago, procurement used to be just a back-office administrative job that processed purchase orders,” the study says. “Procurement has since worked its way up to become a leading strategic function of a company to deliver cost savings and value creation.”

But it notes that 36% of respondents said they were behind schedule in transforming to be more strategic; 35% said they were on schedule, 12% ahead of schedule, 12% complete, and 5% said they didn’t know where they stood regarding procurement goals.

ProcureCon is managed by Worldwide Business Research.

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