Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Things can only get better, right?

As the end of the year gets closer, the annual tradition is to write a review of the year, how it compared with our expectations from last year and the predictions for next year. However, let’s be honest, nobody could have foreseen the events that transpired 3 months into the year and nobody cares too much to revisit most of the events of 2020!

You cannot hide from the fact that it is highly likely that the world will never be the same again. No more so than in the way we work and the way organisations plan to recruit. 

However, it’s not all ‘doom & gloom’, there will be positives as we move through the recovery phase. So, let’s look to 2021 with optimism. Here are 5 predictions for the Procurement & Supply Chain community in 2021.

1. An Increase in ‘Permanent’ Recruitment

Green shoots of recovery are already appearing, with an increase of over 25% in permanent recruitment from Q3 to Q4 in 2020. This is predicted to continue in an upward curve in Q1 and Q2 next year.

Okay you would expect that more organisations would recruit in 2021 than in 2020, however, in our recent Covid Recruitment Survey Results there were some interesting and positive results including the fact that over 54% of organisations surveyed are planning to maintain or grow their permanent teams in 2021. (and this was before there were any realistic hopes of a vaccine).

Key reasons for increasing headcount in 2021 are different in each sector, however include projects such as; Sustainable cost reduction, where possible widening the supply base, reducing supply chain risk, developing robust supplier management, improving supplier partnerships to support innovation, sustainability projects, improving spend analytics and supply chain monitoring practices.

2. Growth in ‘Greenfield’ Procurement leadership roles

Over the years’ procurement has become more strategic as it moves away from pure cost reduction, to a focus on overall value add and has developed a seat at the boardroom table. However, there are still a surprising number of organisations in the SME and Mid-Cap market with multi-million spend, who still have no procurement leadership.

It’s evident from our own experiences in 2020 that more greenfield leadership roles are coming to market. Organisations with significant spend volumes, with little by way of a procurement or supply chain function are now facing up to the fact that the world is moving too fast to stay in ‘status quo’ mode. Whether it’s because of acquisition and mergers, supply chain partnerships or financial pressures, Covid has elevated the importance of ‘best practice’ procurement and supply chain in these organisations. We expect to see more greenfield roles with a focus on transformation, strategy and building teams in 2021.

3. Changes to our work-life balance

For some, the opportunity of a better work-life balance moving forward is one of the few positives to take away from the pandemic. Again, there will be a different approach in each sector.

The way organisations have adapted to remote working has seen a fundamental change in the landscape, to the extent that some will never go back to the 5-day ‘in the office’ working week. However, there will be a need to balance this, especially as all members of the team need to consider mental health awareness, training, guidance and personal interaction, not all of which can be delivered by Zoom or Teams.

Whilst some will argue it hasn’t worked for them, as they now ‘Live at work, rather than working from home’, the general consensus appears to be that flexible and remote working has been embraced and the pandemic has given employers and employees the opportunity to demonstrate it can work. The majority seem to be in favour of blended working, home based with planned office or increasingly post-vaccine travel days to suppliers and partners.

Others are happy to continue with complete remote working to expand their access to more experienced staff, and people who need the flexibility due to childcare and family support. Expect this strategy to be a popular one, with companies in locations that have limited access to the best talent.

Offering remote or blended working will ease recruitment challenges by widening the search parameters.

4. More uncertainty in the short-term

The key learning from this year, even though we’re optimistic, is that we must not get ahead of ourselves too soon. There is a long way to go in the recovery stage and Procurement & Supply Chain functions must continue to focus on preparation for the unpredictable and ensuring their strategies are robust.

Whether it’s Covid, Brexit, IR35 or other geopolitical tensions, there will always be disruptions in this never-normal world we now inhabit. And with uncertainty comes risk and opportunity, which requires a better understanding of what risks apply to your world.

Even though this can mean more hurdles to jump through when it comes to getting sign-off for increased headcount, this is an opportunity to challenge the norm and organisational inertia. Whether it’s engaging with transformation consultancy support, or experienced Interims who can support key business projects, there are ways to get key business initiatives moving prior to recruiting the right permanent team when the business has seen the benefits.

For Interims, who know that feeling of a role being put ‘on hold’, unfortunately there is likely to be more of this. Also, if IR35 goes the wrong way in the UK due to HMRC intransigence then the likely opportunities will exist in the mid-range consultancy market, where organisations take on consultancies to deliver transformation, fixed cost or gain share projects.

The closer we get to April the clearer the challenge and the opportunities will be.

 5. Procurement & Supply Chain value to grow to all-time high

Prior to Covid the functions largely operated in the background, only receiving limited attention in the national media, or people’s day-to-day lives.

The old adage: “You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone”, is partially true, however the real truth is, we all knew what we had, we just never thought we would lose it. This rings true for a large percentage of the nation, who now have an opinion, or an apparent expertise in how to buy everything from PPE to Vaccines to Supply Chain challenges due to the down side of Brexit. National lockdowns and social distancing measures exposed serious weak points in the supply chain, causing delays and disruptions which affect people’s daily lives and now they want to know more.

This elevation in to the national psyche requires that business leaders cannot ignore, or be seen to ignore, the obvious benefits of hiring the right leadership and talent, whether it’s permanent, Interim, or from external support, to understand the numbers, the risk and the best way to manage how they develop the vision for the future.

This year has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, and as we bring the year towards a close and with a vaccine on the horizon, lets wish everyone a much better 2021 where the recovery will bring with it opportunity. And what better way to finish off this year than reading an article without the word ‘unprecedented’ in it! Damn it, knew I couldn’t do it!

 

From all of us at ProSearch we looking forward to working with you in 2021 and would like to wish all our friends, colleagues and clients a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year (or at least as good as you can in a socially distanced tiered lockdown!)

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The ‘Search’ for the right Talent

“Seek and you shall Find”

There is no question that we are in the midst of one of the most challenging economic periods in our generation due to Coronavirus, and if you factor in Brexit and IR35, then you can understand why recruiting the best and the right talent can be extremely difficult.

So….do you have the right people, with the right skills to navigate your way through these challenges and deliver what you need?

Many procurement & supply chain leaders recognise the need to upskill, or increase their team’s capacity and are working on training and development planning, as well as finding the best people in the market. Which leads to the next challenge – finding the right talent.

With so many people now looking for jobs due to redundancy or unemployment, you would naturally believe that it’s an excellent time to recruit, and that hiring, despite the increased demands, should be a breeze, right? Well, think again. Whilst recruiters are flooded with applicants, few people in secure work want to switch jobs at the moment. Many recruiters are finding it increasingly difficult to manage the surging number of applications to the point where they are no longer advertising roles.

So, when it comes to finding the best talent, or the right specialist skills what do you do? How do you ensure that out of the hundreds of advert applications, you select the best, in a crowded market? Advertising is evidently becoming very time consuming so how do you ensure you have the right proactive search & selection strategy for the passive candidates?

More so than ever, recruiting the right person, first time is paramount. So how do you win the race for the best talent and attract the right skillsets, if the right people are not actively looking in a market and are rightly risk averse?

What’s the solution?

There are many factors which attract people to leave their ‘safe’ secure role and seek a new career, including flexible working, training, development, career progression, culture, financial and job security, to name a few. But none of these will matter if prospective candidates are not aware of your company’s career USP’s.

By getting to know clients and their requirements in depth, good recruiters are able to really focus on the top tier candidates for each role, whether they be passive or active candidates. A professional and informative approach and the fact that any hiring company have ‘retained’ a specialist recruiter, gives a great first impression to candidates, presenting them as an organisation that allows serious candidates to want to find out more.

Positioning the company, the role and actively searching for the right talent match with promotional material, 360 capability assessment and other selection tools, also ensures candidates know they are a good fit, providing confidence for both themselves and the client and therefore reducing the risk for both.

Good specialist recruiters know their market inside out. Through years of working with procurement & supply chain professionals globally, we have built relationships with extensive networks of passive career seekers, most of whom will not actively apply to job adverts.

Furthermore, they trust their preferred agents to be able to assess the right roles and represent them properly to ensure they are not lost in the hundreds of advert applications and in most cases never receiving a reply from the advertiser.

Hiring great talent has not got any easier, but there is a solution! Reach out for a confidential discussion and we can guide you through a range of innovative, flexible & cost-effective support options that will help you solve these challenges.

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How is the market for you?

In the Procurement & Supply Chain recruitment world, this is the question everyone has asked on a daily basis since lockdown began.

Unsurprisingly, the consensus from clients and every prospective job hunter in the market, is that it was and still is understandably sluggish.

So here is my view of the last few months, what is happening now and what may happen in the future.

Despite the potential for doom and gloom, there have been sections of the market which have not only managed to maintain a sound state, but have actually grown during these ‘unprecedented’ (I promise not to use that word again) times!

Nobody can say with any confidence what exactly will happen in the next 12 months. However, with years of recruitment experiences, exposure to rapid recessions, changes in global economies, supply chain strategies, coupled with our consulting group’s market knowledge and daily communications with procurement industry leaders, we can offer our ‘positive’ view – apologies but it’s in the genes, we are born optimists…

Uncertainty & New Opportunities

Unquestionably there have been challenges that many businesses have never faced before, leading to uncertainty of the highest scale and recruitment plans being ‘stalled’ or cancelled overnight. The remote working phase during early lockdown was an extremely difficult adjustment for many companies. Others, who have operated flexible working for some time adapted quicker and thrived.

For companies finding this remote transition difficult, even with trusted and capable people, the idea of a remote recruitment process without physically meeting a potential new employee was unthinkable! Even for those companies where remote working wasn’t a problem, hiring someone without a face to face, socially distanced get together, other than on a video call, was maybe a stretch too far.

Then there were clients that realised they had to find ways to onboard new employees remotely. They were not only prepared to offer someone they have never met a job, but actually offer them a career!

To do this they had to embrace the process and the virtual opportunities, involve stakeholders in ways that physical meetings would never normally allow. They had to get support and ‘buy in’ from the broader stakeholder network, get greater consensus and use innovative testing strategies, in such a way that allowed successful candidates to get to know the stakeholder network, well before they had ever stepped through the door on their first day at work.

‘Shoots’ of Improvement

With companies making redundancies and with the more to follow, this still leaves a difficult and frustrating market for anyone seeking new employment or a career move.

At the beginning of the easing of lockdown, there were tentative ‘shoots’ of improvement, supply chains were waking up and certain sectors (for many different reasons) were making plans, nothing consistent due to the fear of a 2nd wave, but small steps. Throughout July, greater optimism and an increased number of opportunities appeared, leading to more people securing new permanent roles.

It’s evident that we are getting used to the idea that the virus will not disappear quickly and we need to change our ways to cope and carry-on, so the creation of a new norm in recruitment is developing. Offices outside of the major cities are gradually opening, with shift based or staggered working, and part-time furloughing, this will become the ‘new normal’ for many organisations for the foreseeable future, which has given a form of temporary certainty and allowed some organisations in the right sectors the confidence to restart those ‘paused’ recruitment campaigns and start forward planning.

Early stages of Recovery

Although we appear to be at the early stages of a fuller recovery, there is obviously a long way to go and the potential for set-backs are always going to be a challenge that will need to be planned for. Procurement & Supply Chain teams are going to need to be agile and this will be critical to future success, for any business in every sector.

If any organisation hadn’t seen supply chain risk, negotiation skills and ‘best in sector’ procurement excellence as a priority, they do now. The world is a different place and there is no room for complacency.

Whilst there will be fewer numbers of people going away during the usual summer vacation periods, the school holidays will still be an opportunity for parents to take time out with their children. However, with September coming and children back into school and furlough schemes coming to an end, this will be a pivotal time in the recovery, planning how you manage your workforce, skills development and future mapping your options is critical.

Undoubtedly companies are still nervous about times ahead and perhaps apprehensive about hiring. Will companies switch their permanent recruitment to interim solutions? Flexibility in an uncertain time can be an effective solution for many, including outsourcing projects to protect the business with fees based on targeted deliverables. All options are on the table.

Future mapping for success

Many functional leaders now see the future, as a blend of upskilling teams, creating flexibility in remote working and building talent pipelines of ‘fit for purpose’ Interim or consulting resources that understand your business challenges. This will also deliver protection against the potential threat of IR35 and support the other challenge round the corner, Brexit. Not a year to forget in a hurry!

A few Predictions for the Future of Procurement & Supply Chain teams

  • Greater investment in remote and virtual screening techniques
  • Online ‘capability assessment’ to improve interview support for non-functional stakeholders
  • Outsourced or Augmented delivery Teams for fixed cost projects
  • Intelligent development of ‘Talent Pipelines’ of business ready Interim resource
  • Even greater emphasis on ‘getting it right’ in Permanent recruitment
  • Upskilling, training and greater emphasis on building teams that work at pace

 

If you would like to know more about Permanent, Interim recruitment solutions and the flexible future for Procurement & Supply chain functions, contact Adam Roughton, Partner – info@procurasearch.com to arrange a convenient time for a call. Or sign up for more Insights below;

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Procura Covid-19 Procurement Survey Results

Understanding the impact – survive & thrive.

The Survey was completed by over 200 senior procurement and finance leaders throughout lockdown and examines the effect of the pandemic, the immediate responses to the crisis, and strategies for recovery. 

Procurement functions have always needed to be at the heart of your businesses operations, managing complex supplier relationships and central to future profitability. Procurement & Finance Leaders are employing a wide range of commercial and logistical responses; from collaborative supplier support, to commercial renegotiation and re-contracting, rapid sourcing of new suppliers or complete supply chain reconfiguration. The survey highlights a timeline of challenges that will need to be addressed as economies unfreeze and businesses restart.

Underpinning the responses, is a common view that procurement functions must become more agile, flexible, and responsive.

 

DOWNLOAD the full report

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Procura 2020 MCA Finalists (twice!)
Procura short-listed FOR ‘BEST NEW CONSULTANCY’ AND ‘Commercial excellence’ in the prestigious MCA Awards 2020

We are delighted to have been shortlisted as Finalists for the prestigious Management Consultancy Awards 2020. Not just once, but twice!

The MCA Awards have been an important event in the UK consulting calendar for over 23 years. Each year, they demonstrate the true value of consulting to both the private and public sector and the impact consulting has on our society.

The MCA is the representative body for the UK’s leading management consulting firms. For 60 years, the MCA has been the voice of the consulting industry, promoting the value of consulting to business, the public sector, media commentators and the general public.

The MCA’s member companies comprise over 50 per cent of the UK consulting industry in fee income, employ around 45,000 consultants and work with over 90 of the top FTSE 100 companies and almost all parts of the public sector. Through the Consulting Excellence scheme, all members are committed to highest standards of ethical behaviour, client service and value, and professionalism.

“As a business we believe strongly in the values of Consulting Excellence in demonstrating quality, values and professionalism in our work with clients, and in enhancing the capabilities and development of our people. The nine core values of Consulting Excellence align with the delivery of Procurement Excellence to our clients and we are delighted to be recognised through the MCA Awards 2020”.

Richard McIntosh, Managing Partner

 

For more information about our range of services, which include Procurement Consulting, Spend Analytics, Group Purchasing and Recruitment Solutions and you would like to discuss how expert support can help your business, please get in touch on: info@procuraconsulting.com or call +44 (0)203 693 7275

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