With dramatic and often unforeseen change, rising uncertainty, and new risks multiplying daily, how do professionals in procurement and supply chain jobs keep their organisations’ business flowing reliably? By being prepared and harnessing new digital technologies, a cloud procurement expert has replied.

Procurement IT expert, Justin Sandler, emphasises that the peaceful, ordered world of global liberal democracy and free-market capitalism envisioned 25 years ago by the American academic, Yoshiro Francis Fukuyama, hasn’t materialised as he’d imagined. Unpredictable events abound, from the Brexit vote in the UK to the unexpected election of President Trump in 2016, to the rise of China as a global superpower, and wars in the Middle East, plus many other developments. While unexpected developments like these aren’t always conducive to the regular flow of business along smooth-running supply chains, Sandler believes that times of change also bring big opportunities. He believes that procurement practitioners, whether permanent staff or procurement and supply chain interims, should remain sceptical about panic-tinged news stories on the prospect of a huge economic meltdown after Brexit.

While there will be issues to be managed, e.g., new tax, customs, and trade complexities, he urges procurement executives and their teams not to ‘pull the blankets over their heads’ and hide till it’s all over, but to prepare for the challenges coming their way instead. This will involve detailed scenario planning and, where possible, the use of cutting-edge technologies, such as blockchain and ‘cobots’ to create greater visibility throughout the supply chain. Digital technology can also ensure that the procurement fundamentals are in good order, delivering greater visibility of spend and suppliers as well as real-time data about spend, spending plans, contracts, and suppliers.

Sandler also recommends comprehensive supply chain risk management analyses to cover political, financial, reputational, and ‘man-made’ risks, such as labour disputes at supplier plants. Risk will never go away, but it can be intelligently prepared for.

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