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Procurement people are getting smarter, but technology and talent challenges persist



A few weeks ago, we featured an article by Susan Avery, Procurement Changes in the Past 10 Years in the Coupa Top 5. Avery, a longtime writer on the topics of purchasing and procurement, pulled together some interesting statistics on how procurement has changed over the past 10, and in some cases, 20 years.


These statistics came out of a research study she conducted last year for another, more in-depth article profiling the modern procurement professional. In some cases, she was able to draw additionally on a 1993 study by an earlier writer at to give an even longer view. We thought it would be interesting to put her findings in a chart to show more clearly what’s changed – and what hasn’t - between then and now.

procurement now then

What's changed the most over the past decade or so is how much more educated people in procurement are, the increasing amount of financial responsibility they have, and the wider diversity of experience they're bringing to the role.


Perhaps most notable is the shift toward a greater alignment with finance. Not only are more people coming to procurement with a finance background, there's been a big jump in the percentage who report in to the CFO. Not surprising considering that 27% of procurement people in 2013 reported managing a budget in excess of $100 million.


Avery also observes that procurement professionals are working in a wider variety of industries today, based on her experience writing the Purchasing Magazine procurement salary survey for many years. Whereas ten years ago the majority worked in miscellaneous manufacturing, metalworking and process industries, today procurement professionals today work  in a wider variety of industries including healthcare, education, pharmaceuticals, and financial services she says. 


And, whereas before they bought a lot of commodities, today they source a wider range of goods and services, including IT, professional services and corporate travel.


The increased level of education and qualification, and the diversification of background and activities squares up with what Andrew Bartolini, managing partner and chief researchser at Ardent Partners called out in the most recent CPO Rising report as a new convergence around procurement as the go-to department for executing a wider variety of initiatives, including things that have not been traditionally part of the procurement role.


What's remained constant over the last decade or more are a familiar set of challenges: The shortage of talent, the need for technology and automation. Also the same: despite these challenges, roughly 80% say they would choose the profession again.


Read the full article by Susan Avery here.