Procurement & Supply Chain – Market and Hiring Trends 2021

24/05/2021By Christian Shawcross
It was a busy period for hiring within procurement and supply functions as we launched into 2021. During the first quarter, organisations continued to invest heavily in their procurement teams. As expected, there has been increased demand for automation and digitisation skills which have been high on the procurement agenda.
Procurement & Supply Chain - Market and Hiring Trends 2021

We have seen the importance of data analytics as a continuing trend in helping procurement departments deliver further benefits to organisations. Data quality is helping to identify key areas of spend in an organisation and which suppliers are adding the most value. Therefore, more organizations are starting to move to a more integrated digital procurement solution. Despite lockdowns that have affected supply chains, procurement has weathered the storm well. They have also anticipated regulatory changes and are well positioned to assist their stakeholders.

Procurement teams have recognised the benefits of embracing sustainability targets. The benefits are clear for all and procurement has grasped the subject well. Procurement has always led the way in innovation and collaboration with stakeholders and we have seen this reflected in the positions we have filled. The procurement community has created opportunities to provide value beyond just savings, by looking at risk mitigation and regulatory compliance. It will be important for companies to maintain relationships with their key suppliers. The most effective teams are engaging with them via all communication channels, and this is crucial to their success.

It has been rewarding to support organisations expanding their procurement functions and we anticipate demand to be significant throughout 2021.

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Banking and Financial Services

Consulting and Outsourcing

Affordable Housing

Energy and Utilities

Banking and Financial Services

As expected, the first quarter continued to be buoyant with several placements at Head of level across a broad range of organisations. One common theme was the focus on professional services categories, particularly legal and marketing categories. For some organisations, these were very project related so an interim hire was a practical solution.

For the larger firms, where there is enough longevity for a permanent hire to be made, the global nature of the categories deemed this more suitable. For some of the placements, there was a focus on supplier relationship management where there was less emphasis on delivering savings and more focus on expanding the coverage with suppliers.

Although we have seen procurement departments reduce in size, there is still plenty of scope and opportunities for procurement professionals to get ahead within Banking & Financial Services. We expect to be busy in this sector throughout 2021.

Consulting and Outsourcing

The Consulting sector is very buoyant and has kept our Search team busy in Q1 with numerous assignments at senior manager and Director/Associate Partner level. Mid-sized firms are competing very well with the larger, more established organisations. Confidence in the sector is high and consultancies are seeing much more appetite to sign off on projects. There has been a focus on procurement transformation placements, particularly within digitisation and data.

Within the larger firms, we have seen an increase in projects relating to Coupa implementation and building more sustainability into supply chains. These have been interesting assignments to work on with several placements generated.

Affordable Housing

The Affordable Housing sector has seen continued merger and acquisition activity which has created several opportunities for procurement professionals. There has been further investment in modular housing, continued involvement from both local and national government and the challenge of finding suitable development opportunities.

Larger organisations are becoming more streamlined and commercially driven which has an impact on procurement functions. They can implement a thorough category management strategy, especially in the asset management and construction categories. This is becoming an increasing priority for growing organisations which are facing several geographical and supplier challenges.

For smaller organisations, there is a growing trend to establish robust procurement functions, mostly initiated by finance departments seeking to reduce their cost base without compromising on the quality of service provided to their customers.

Greenfield functional development continues to be a major focus area for us, and we have leveraged our expertise across the public and private sectors to provide a broad range of options to our clients. Implementing a mandated Procurement function from scratch is a challenge. Frequently, there are limited resources, compounded by resistance from stakeholders that brings an additional challenge to these projects. During transition stages like this, it is imperative that businesses engage the best talent on the market and try to get it right first time.

This pressure is reflected in the recruitment process, with more thorough assessments and hiring managers wanting to see candidates who are a 100% match. Nonetheless, this is a key area for psd as a whole and we have dedicated resources to offer a first-rate service.

Energy and Utilities

There has been plenty of activity in the Energy and Utilities sectors. We have observed recurring themes with Energy and Utilities Procurement recruitment: attracting specialist CAPEX, infrastructure and equipment talent and a focus on Procurement technology. There is also a focus on internal technology, governance, performance management and analytics.

There are several organisations implementing transformation projects which combine procurement systems with ongoing SRM activity. As with most sectors, there is a focus on efficiency across the departments. This has led to broad reviews of contract and relationship management opportunities at a strategic level, with talent being sourced from the private and public sector alike.

Despite the numerous challenges facing the industry, innovation continues to be a major focus point. We have been engaged on a number of interesting roles focussing on the implementation of new technologies and data capture. Within larger organisations, there is a preference for candidates with international experience and there has been a marked increase in inter-departmental projects.   It is a major area for us and we see the demand continuing throughout the year.

If you would like to know more about current market and hiring conditions within the Procurement & Supply Chain sector, or have any questions or comments about this review, please do feel free to reach out.

psd has been recruiting Procurement, Sourcing & Supply Chain professionals across the UK and Europe, Middle East and Asia for over 25 years. Our services include Executive Search, Contingency Recruitment, Selection & Assessment, Interim & Contract and Research, Mapping & Benchmarking.

About the author

Christian is Director of psd’s Procurement & Supply Chain Practice, leading searches for senior executives in the Financial Services and Professional Services sectors in the UK and globally.