Keeping up with the growing responsibilities of today’s procurement teams

As procurement considerations grow more complicated, state and local government agencies need to think outside the box to support their buying teams better.
John Panzino, Amazon Business

John Panzino is a senior sales leader for Amazon Business, serving state and local government agencies.

There are many unsung heroes behind the scenes helping state and local government agencies deliver public services. One group that rarely gets the credit they deserve includes the men and women responsible for procurement.

Despite state and local agencies’ progress in equipping their employees with more modern tools, the reality is that procurement professionals face an expanding array of challenges that government officials at large need to recognize and help address.

Several of their most critical challenges were captured in a recent assessment of procurement trends compiled by Gartner, which surveyed global procurement leaders. While their findings highlighted the dynamic forces impacting the work of procurement teams globally, four of their observations are likely to resonate close to home with state and local procurement officials:

1. Growing complexity of competing demands and tradeoffs

In the past, procurement officials primarily had to balance a combination of cost, quality and speed in making their procurement choices. Today, procurement professionals must weigh additional factors such as sustainability, emerging risk, innovation and diversity, equity and inclusion. Three in four procurement professionals in one Gartner survey stated that the number of tasks they must complete has increased in the last year — and 9 in 10 supply chain leaders expect the complexity in sourcing and procurement to continue increasing across the next two years.

2. Rising demand for responsible sourcing

Procurement officials are also pressured to support environmental, social and governance goals — and purchase locally when possible. Part of that pressure is due to regulatory requirements, cited by 58% of procurement leaders in one Gartner survey. But almost as many (56%) pointed to client/customer retention, and half (49%) mentioned risk mitigation and resiliency. The net effect is increasing amounts of research and audit work. Over half of procurement leaders expect to add to their team’s overall responsibilities over the next year.

3. Cognitive overload faced by procurement staff

Compounding the increase in procurement complexity is a parallel increase in the rapid transformation and rate of change in today’s world. Procurement teams are encountering new technologies, value streams, operating models and workflows. The result is not only new tasks and responsibilities for procurement and sourcing employees, but a rising level of fatigue, burnout and cognitive overload that poses new levels of risk to state and local governments.

4. Technology helps, but is hard to get

Six in 10 procurement leaders in a recent Gartner survey say up-to-date procurement technology would significantly affect performance over the next one to one-to-two years. However, four in 10 leaders expect funding for supporting technology will get harder to secure. Based on experience, procurement officials are also finding it’s getting harder to get the technology support they need: Only about 17% in one Gartner survey said they got the technology they wanted, and 34% said they only secured part or a lesser version of the technology they needed.

Left unstated in all of this is the challenge agencies face in finding and developing procurement professionals who understand and are willing to embrace the unique requirements of government procurement.

Rethinking how procurement gets accomplished

One way state and local agencies and their procurement departments can address these challenges head-on is by partnering with Amazon Business to meet today’s expanding procurement demands at scale. Amazon Business currently serves 55 Fortune 100 companies, all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and 90 out of 100 of the most populous local governments.

Among other procurement capabilities, Amazon Business can help state and local governments:

  • Save time and reduce costs – By leveraging Amazon Business’s centralized cloud-based customer quote engine, Request for Quote, which integrates with over 90 leading procurement systems, agencies can capitalize on up-to-date procurement software, access thousands of pre-vetted suppliers and secure supplies faster and more cost-effectively.
  • Make payments more efficiently  – By consolidating purchasing into one invoice and paying using your preferred method; agencies can streamline workflows without sacrificing the ability to maintain detailed accounting audits.
  • Get greater visibility and control – By adding the ability to track and manage access to socially responsible purchasing, agencies can gain a greater balance of buying locally and sustainably from diverse vendors. Additionally, procurement officials can gain greater visibility of their purchasing activity through Amazon Business Analytics.

As the demands on state and local government agencies continue to grow, so will the demands on their procurement teams. Providing procurement officials with more robust support — plus the tools they need to keep up with increasing procurement demands — will help agencies make smart business buying decisions and serve the public more effectively.

You can learn more about how Amazon Business can support your government agency.

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