Return of a Castaway

How will the landscape of purchasing look four years from today? It's most likely that supplier relationships, collaboration and purchasing departments will look much different.


In short, today we are at a crossroads. As supply chain managers, we need to define what is core to our business and determine whether or not we are too reliant on internal expertise. At a corporate level we should look to partners and providers that bring specialized expertise. We have to move past the not invented here syndrome. The real issue is how well we integrate across our enterprises and collaborate with our suppliers.


At a personal level, supply chain professionals will need new skills. We need to build stronger skills in areas such as project management and consulting (being internal consultants within our companies). We will also need more specialized skills in the area of strategic sourcing. Supply chain practitioners should rotate outside of procurement to payables or perhaps customer-facing roles and wear another's shoes for a time, with the goal of making them more effective when they are returned to procurement.


William Schaefer is vice president of procurement services at IBM Global Services.
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