The Hiring Landscape Q1 2021 – Recent Activity and Trends

As we embark on the recovery from the biggest global crisis in most of our lifetimes, current recruitment activity, often seen as a key barometer of economic health and confidence, suggests that there is evidence that the Procurement and Supply Chain world is in a stronger position than many other sectors.

The associated technology and consulting markets are in rude health by comparison to much of the wider economic landscape and there is genuine optimism that things will continue to improve. This is because the profession is at the heart of how companies will solve the challenges created by the events of 2020.

Despite a large proportion of Europe being in various forms of national or regional lockdowns, the early signs in 2021 are that the job market for the sector is remarkably busy already. A significant number of software vendors and consultancies are actively in the market for staff. In the case of the vendors, the main demand is for revenue generation roles such as sales, presales and customer success, whilst the demand in the consultancy market is driven by a thirst for people with transformation experience usually including the implementation and adoption of digital procurement tools.

In their report into the UK jobs markets published in early January KPMG and The REC reported that: “UK recruitment consultancies recorded a renewed rise in permanent placements at the end of 2020, thereby ending a two-month sequence of decline. That said, the rate of growth was only marginal. The upturn was generally attributed to increased business activity and an improvement in market confidence, partly due to recent vaccine news, which led clients to press on with previously delayed recruitment plans. However, there were also widespread reports that the COVID-19 pandemic, renewed lockdown measures and uncertainty over Brexit had dampened growth of permanent hires.”

The activity in the market in January suggests both an improvement in demand in early 2021 and that procurement and associated technology markets are amongst the most robust professional job markets. Using the KPMG vacancies index to assess sector by sector activity, two of the three fastest growing permanent job markets are technology and financial, which supports our theory to a degree without giving specific data on the particular niche sectors that we are focusing on here.

So how did we get to a stage where the market is so busy, so quickly bearing in mind that hiring markets largely ground to halt for large parts of the second and third quarters of 2020?

Knowing how many tech vendors faired last year against their revenue targets and also how their sales varied over the course of the year, we believe there is evidence to support the theory that the Covid pandemic has, and will continue to be, a catalyst for increased digital transformation of procurement and supply chain in a number of industries. We look into more evidence to support this theory later in this report.

Before that, let’s reflect on a brief summary of the market conditions in 2020 that illustrate just how much things have changed:

Q1 – The first quarter of the year was actually quite a flat hiring market in the procurement tech sector. 2019 had seen many organisations significantly increase headcount whilst enjoying strong market conditions but with Brexit uncertainty still in the air, there was a degree of caution around hiring with companies generally focusing on getting the best from existing resources.

Q2 – The implications of the Covid pandemic hit Europe and the lockdowns began. Companies are in survival mode and professional job markets cease to operate as priorities are elsewhere. As we head into May and June we start to see spikes of activity as companies focus on business critical hires that can’t wait any longer, but the overall market is still incredibly quiet.

Q3 – Spikey activity continues but professional recruiters are largely struggling for work, whilst internal recruiters become fearful of job security. Most moves are being done through existing personal networks, for example, ex-colleagues as these feel safer for both parties and don’t incur any recruitment costs. There are some exceptions as the strongest software companies seek to hoover up talent in a less competitive market. Some companies start to adapt to hiring over Teams/ Zoom. The core Procurement professional job market is one of the better professional markets but the solutions providers largely remain quiet with a few notable exceptions.

Q4 – The job market gradually starts to improve despite redundancies taking hold in certain sectors, particularly for companies who were either struggling prior to Covid, made bad decisions in the pandemic or their market died, often for reasons beyond their control. However despite all that overall activity steadily improves with confidence returning, possibly due to vaccine hopes. For many businesses, there was also a realisation that things had to change and the answer for many lies in increased or better use of technology. That is why December was the busiest month of the year and the signs in Q1 of 2021 are that we have a remarkably busy hiring market.

So are companies feeling bullish about their prospects in 2021 because of the nature of what digital transformation in procurement and supply chain can deliver for organisations? It would appear so and would correspond nicely to the theory that more is expected from procurement and supply chain functions in challenging times.

This article is an excerpt from our Procurement & Spend Management Insider Report for Spring 2021.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised, please email andrew@edburydaley.com.

The inside track on the big moves, hiring and technology trends, the rise of supply chain risk and sustainability and much more

Specialist Procurement Technology Recruitment company Edbury Daley has just published the latest edition of The Procurement & Spend Management Insider.

In this edition of the widely respected report, in addition to industry insights on merger and acquisition activity and key leaders moving companies and their thoughts and views, they also look at the changing demands faced by procurement solutions providers. With Covid still presenting a challenge, they review major events and how the Procurement Technology software and consulting sector has responded in the past six months. To this end, they have valuable contributions from Ivalua, Rosslyn Analytics, SAP Ariba & Fieldglass, Olivehorse, Barclaycard and C2FO to name a few.

The authors and their contributors explore the dominant trends including supply chain risk, visibility, and resilience alongside the growing importance of Environmental Social Governance (ESG), the value of data and the marriage of technology with people.

Andrew Daley, one of the authors and a founding Director of Edbury Daley told us “We’ve been writing the P&SM Insider Report for several years now and I must say I am really proud of this particular edition.  If you are interested in what’s going on in the digital procurement market, whether it be high profile moves, hiring trends, supply & demand of key skills then our report covers it all.  However, what I am really pleased about this time is the input from a series of respected voices across the European procurement tech sector. The likes of Deloitte do a great job of surveying the international CPO community, whilst our friends at Spend Matters offer wonderful analysis of the solutions available to  Procurement & Supply Chain leaders, but this edition of our report surveys leaders from eight important vendors in the market offering a unique perspective of the trends in the procurement tech market.  So my heartfelt thanks go to all the valuable contributions from respected leaders at SAP Ariba, Ivalua, HICX, Barclaycard B2B, Rosslyn Data Technologies, C2FO, Claritum, and Circulor.”

“Furthermore, it’s great to be able to report that our market is alive and well, hiring activity is up, vendors and consultants are feeling positive about 2021 and that is something to celebrate after what we have all been through in recent months, so please enjoy reading more positive news and feel free to have your say on social media.”

Why are procurement and supply chain job markets more robust than other professions?

There is a theory that the procurement, supply chain and associated spend management technology sectors are more robust than many other professional job markets during difficult economic periods.  It appears to have been supported by some evidence that the market conditions are noticeably improving in recent weeks.

For the procurement and supply chain profession, the thinking behind the theory is that these functions move up the corporate agenda in challenging economic circumstances because there is pressure for cost savings, and concerns about managing risk across the supplier base.  

It, therefore, follows that these professions are more secure when companies are looking at reducing headcount if job losses are on their agenda.  Furthermore, an increase in workload for these departments often leads to additional staff, whether they be full time or contractors, because a business case can be made that the hire is vital even when headcount is a sensitive issue.

What does this mean for the companies that provide tech solutions and others services to the procurement and supply chain profession?

Well, we observed much more recruitment activity in the final quarter of 2020 than had been the case earlier in the year, and anecdotally this compared favourably with recruitment conditions in other professional sectors in the UK.  Furthermore, we have already seen a positive momentum to activity early in 2021 with increased headcount in several vendors for revenue-generating roles, mainly for sales and presales roles so far.

With recruitment activity often seen as a key barometer of economic health, what does this tell us?  Knowing how many tech vendors faired last year against their revenue targets and also how their sales varied over the course of the year, we believe there is evidence to support the theory that the Covid pandemic has, and will continue to be a catalyst for increased digital transformation of procurement and supply chain in a number of industries.

This is further supported by significant hiring activity from the leading transformation consultancies who partner with the tech vendors on implementation and adoption of solutions like Coupa, SAP Ariba and Ivalua.

So are companies feeling bullish about their prospects in 2021 because of the nature of what digital transformation in procurement and supply chain can deliver for organisations?  It would appear so and would tie in nicely to the aforementioned theory that more is expected from procurement and supply chain functions in challenging times.

We will examine the details behind these trends in our forthcoming edition of The Procurement and Spend Management Insider report which is due for publication at the end of January 2021.  For those of you who missed the previous edition, it is available here. If you download it you will automatically register to receive the new edition.  

Besides the usual summary of news from the sector, the report particularly focused on what various procurement tech vendors were doing for their customers when the Pandemic first hit.

The forthcoming Insider will also feature some fascinating insight into what the procurement and supply chain communities have been demanding from their tech suppliers in the second half of 2020, how that has impacted on the market, and what that means for the spend management sector in 2021.

Based on our research so far, the hot topics include a real emphasis on better use of spend analytics along with managing major issues in the supply chain including risk, security, sustainability and traceability.

Furthermore, in order to help both hiring managers and professionals working in our specialist sectors, we are also researching what has changed in the job market, specifically how have people’s attitudes to career moves changed given factors like economic uncertainty, different work demands, increased home working and a reduction in business travel.

Please find 2 minutes to give your views in this short survey here, it will really help us to get the best possible data insights on this important subject.

Thank you

Andrew Daley

Director 

Edbury Daley

The Procurement & Supply Chain Technology Market – what’s been happening?

If you, like us, like to know what’s going on in the world of procurement, finance and supply chain technology then you’ll enjoy this quick summary of recent developments, not all of which are general knowledge!

So, in our day to day networking across the sector we are hearing some really interesting information.  In summary, what I am seeing and hearing across the procurement, supply chain and data technology space in that the companies that are doing particularly well this year are offering greater insights, visibility and scrutiny across the supply chain, often using spend data and analytics which clearly ties in with the impact of Covid as supply chain planning and swift, often drastic, cost cutting measures become top of many agendas. 

Conversely, the picture for those companies whose solutions typically require major procurement/finance transformations is mixed as several have seen their growth plans hit by Covid.

Both Tradeshift and Tungsten have recently restructured operations resulting in  redundancies, whereas Coupa continues to hire and of course make significant acquisitions.

On that subject,  the big, recent news in the market of course is that Coupa have bought Llamasoft for around $1.5 billion in a deal that brings supply chain planning into the portfolio of Coupa solutions, something that could be a real game changer for them.  Spend Matters is the place to read more about that deal if you are interested.

One high profile move worth noting is the return of Henrik Smedberg to UK in his role as Head of Intelligent Spend Management UKI (i.e. SAP Ariba & SAP Fieldglass).  This role was previously held by Stephan Beeusaert (now Smartsheet) and before that Justin Sadler Smith (now Basware). Henrik is well respected with the business having previously work in the Nordics (2011-2013) and more recently leading sales for ANZ out of Sydney before moving to the UK. 

The mixed picture in the vendors is reflected to a degree in the consultancies that inhabit the partner ecosystems of the likes of Coupa, Ariba and Ivalua.  For example there is news from  Accenture that their UK practice leads for both Coupa and Ariba have recently left the business in moves that appear to weaken their offering in that space.  However KPMG, seen by many as the lead partner for Coupa, go from strength to strength with some excellent recent project wins (Astra Zeneca and Nationwide to name two) and impressive hires strengthening their capability.

As we head towards the end of the calendar year, there is hope that some technology vendors can finish the final quarter (traditionally the best quarter of the year for sales at the big players) on a high.  The reason being that with so many potential projects/sales placed on hold in the Spring as Covid first took hold in Europe, the message from the sales people in our network is that clients now want to get things moving again.  So we can expect a strong performance towards the end of year and maybe some deals dragging into early next year given the general pace of progress in the market.

Of course the procurement events calendar is still severely affected by Covid unfortunately and the companies that focus on this sector are having to work hard to reinvent themselves to a degree.

One interesting development that caught our eye came from the innovative Matthias Gutzman, founder of Digital Procurement World.  Besides his online awards that effectively replaced this years event (they featured pitches from several start up vendors competing in various categories)  he appears to be reinventing DPW or certainly adding to their service offering by using the likes of LinkedIn to post about major corporates looking to source vendors in areas like e-invoicing, spend analytics etc.  So far there have been opportunities with the likes of Shell and Roche so this is definitely something that sales people from vendors should be keeping a close eye on.

Procurement  Leaders held their virtual World Procurement Congress last week.  Normally one of the highlights of the procurement events calendar, the three day conference usually ends with the black tie dinner and awards.  This year CEO Nandini Basuthakur and guest host, comedian Sindhu Vee, did their best to celebrate some great achievements from the profession this year with another virtual event.

In terms of the categories involving procurement technology, the prize for the best P2P Specialist went to Ivalua for the second year in a row whilst the Ecovadis CSR award went to Mondelez.  The Procurement Technology award went to the regular sponsor of the World Procurement Congress GEP.  Whilst anecdotally we are hearing that GEP have had a productive year in Europe winning several new clients, I wonder if there are people working for other vendors that would suggest a degree of favouritism!  

Here’s a list of all the companies that were shortlisted for awards.

We hope you’ve found this news summary interesting. If you want any more information or would like to discuss any aspect of the market, whether you are thinking about hiring or your own career, please do get in touch with me via andrew@edburydaley.com

 

Andrew Daley

Director – Procurement & Spend Management

+44 7711 715258

Edbury Daley – Putting Procurement Talent Within Your Reach

www.edburydaley.com

What’s happening in the Procurement Technology job market?

There is evidence that activity in the procurement solutions market is picking up as companies consider accelerating the digitisation of their procurement and finance functions.  Consulting and software business leaders talk about their target clients regretting not having had digital procurement and supply chain solutions in place during the pandemic.  

In the finance world, P2P solution providers are encouraged by talk of reshoring and the problems they can solve for clients who are still on-premise in an age of increased home working.

Many expect buying/sales cycles to be even longer than before with additional stakeholders brought into the decision making progress but at least we have some positive signs.

So what does that mean for the job market in the procurement tech sector? We thought it would be useful for you to know whether you are planning to hire, trying to keep your best people or considering your own options.

We’ll look at some data for professional job markets as a whole before sharing some anecdotal evidence from the procurement, finance, and supply chain tech markets.

Firstly let’s consider some interesting data seen by Edbury Daley from a report produced by Vacancysoft in conjunction with APSCo.   The research looked at trends across all professional job markets (with salaries of £40k upwards) in London and offered sector by sector trends. It told us the following:

“Prior to the COVID-19 crisis we would expect on average that there would be between 500 and 600 professional vacancies per day in the capital, across all sectors. With that in mind we can see that at the beginning of Q2, the five day rolling average was 167, understandable given that we were in the early stages of lockdown. In contrast, on July 31st, this had increased to 358, and, in fact, there were multiple days in July where daily totals exceeded 400. While there’s certainly still some room for improvement, the capital’s hiring is clearly heading in the right direction. 

When analysing activity by sector, Technology continues to dominate in terms of vacancy numbers, with activity up 33% compared to June. However, while it accounts for a significant proportion of the capital’s hiring, Technology was far from the best performing sector when measuring month on month change, with other specialisms outperforming it including Consumer Goods & Services (up 58%) and Real Estate & Construction (up 46%.) 

The fact that so many other sectors outperformed Technology in this regard has resulted in the share of professional vacancies in the sector dropping to under 30% of all roles posted in London, for the first time since before the outbreak.”

The top six sectors for hiring activity in London are Technology, Banking, Retail, Consumer goods, Professional services (accounting & consulting), Real estate and construction and Insurance.

Now let’s look at what’s been happening recently in the procurement, supply chain and finance technology markets:

Hiring understandably slowed in recent months with many software firms placing all but absolutely essential hiring on hold.  

With sales targets seeming a long way off, new hires in sales were hit hardest along with presales.  There have already been some redundancies in these teams and we expect more to follow.

In some cases, companies have clearly taken the opportunity to rationalise by moving their poorer performers on.  Others have cranked up the pressure to deliver in difficult circumstances on their best people resulting in some disenfranchised staff who are still in roles, but are more open to moves than was previously the case.

Customer Success and Account Management roles have been more commonplace because vendors have seen more activity from within their existing customer base.  This has been most notable in spend analytics and other solutions that can accelerate cost saving projects.

The bigger, established players have typically been more inclined to place a total hold on hiring whilst smaller, best of breed companies have been more likely to be flexible and make key strategic hires when the right person becomes available.

So what can we expect for the rest of 2020?

Limited hiring activity in sales and presales as many companies tread carefully and realign both expectations and budgets.

Some very good people coming to the job market but potentially frustrated by the limited options available to them.

Certain companies, the more bullish ones, will demonstrate their financial health and belief in their long term prospects by taking advantage of the lack of competition for top talent. Such companies will be able to snap up some great people who might previously have been reluctant to move.  

We are talking to a network of people who fit this description and value our specialist expertise in the procurement, finance and supply chain tech markets. If you want to understand how you can access this network please get in touch using andrew@edburydaley.com

New Hiring Challenges

For those companies that are recruiting or thinking about their plans for later this year, it’s worth thinking about the questions that are facing hiring managers in this unique set of  market conditions:

How do you make effective hires without meeting candidates face to face?

How do you onboard people if your offices aren’t open or have limited capacity?

Are people reluctant to move jobs for security reasons?

What are employers’ work from home policies and how are they going to change?

We’ve been working with clients to address all these questions so if you want to hear how other companies are managing these challenges we’d be happy to help.

Andrew Daley
Director – Procurement & Spend Management

www.edburydaley.com

Are the lights coming back on? Is recruitment coming back on the agenda?

The professional recruitment world completely ground to a halt for much of March, April and May as the Covid pandemic took hold of the global economy.  The recruitment industry was decimated as a substantial proportion of recruiters were placed on furlough schemes and various major players announced drastic reductions in revenue.  Of course, we are still hearing about predictions of mass unemployment when the furlough schemes end, but we are pleased to say that we are just starting to see some positive signs in the market after such a difficult period.

Staffing industry analysts (SIA), the global advisor on Staffing and Workforce Solutions have just reported that “the pandemic continued to weigh heavily on recruitment activity at the end of the second quarter of 2020, with clients implementing recruitment freezes or cancelling hires until the outlook brightened.”

This analysis was based on the latest UK Report on Jobs by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG which reported that “permanent staff placements and temporary billings both fell at notably weaker rates than in April and May when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its most severe”

James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG, said, “Despite an inevitable further drop in hiring activity for permanent and temporary staff, it is encouraging to see they both fell at softer rates than seen in April and May. However, the air of uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic will linger – and rebuilding confidence in the UK jobs market will take time.”

One more interesting statistic for you SIA also report that “the number of job adverts posted across the UK increased 20% in the week ending 5 July compared to the previous week, this is the first positive increase in weeks according to the latest real-time statistics from Broadbean Technology, the network of job boards”.  

Now week to week statistics can be misleading, especially when you consider the baseline position that this information starts from, but as we head into the third quarter of the year it seems that things are gradually improving although it’s still clearly very early days. 

Another positive to be aware of is that there is some evidence that the procurement and supply chain world enjoys one of the more robust job markets supported by the theory that the profession becomes more important during the tough economic times – there was certainly evidence to support this in 2008-10.  So expect the procurement world to be ahead of many other professions.

For the vendors and consultancies in the procurement solutions sector, they are relying on their target clients realising the value of their solutions when the pressure is on for savings and efficiencies.   Hopefully, this faith is well-founded as some niche procurement tech firms have told us that existing clients are leaning on them more than ever and in some cases, they are actually ahead of this year’s sales targets – an amazing achievement in the circumstances!

If your company is fortunate enough to be in a strong position, it’s actually a great time to hire as those organisations who are still very nervous about the future aren’t hiring at present so there’s less competition for good people.  There’s also clear evidence that there is some outstanding talent on the job market including top performers who are concerned about job security and interim specialists seeking the perceived security of a full-time job on a permanent contract.

The problem for HR and Talent departments is that the responses to these adverts will be through the roof given the number of job seekers and someone has to sort through all those responses from people who aren’t suitable for the role in the hope that they can find a few strong candidates for interviews.

I’d say its quicker and easier to make successful hires through a specialist recruiter but I would say that because I am a specialist recruiter.  Thankfully our clients who are back in hiring mode agree.

Andrew Daley

Director – Procurement Technology Practice

Edbury Daley

andrew@edburydaley.com

+44 7711 715258

For more information and analysis on the Procurement and Spend Management job markets, you can access regular reports here.

Edbury Daley publish their latest Procurement Insider Report

Procurement Technology Recruitment Specialist Edbury Daley has just published the Spring 2020 version of their well-respected Procurement and Spend Management Insider Report. It is available for free download from their website (link below).   One of the authors, Andrew Daley told us:

“The world has become dominated by the Covid-19 outbreak with the business world changing in ways that many of us could never have imagined.

So rather than just providing commentary on what has happened in the procurement and procurement technology job markets over the previous six months as past editions, this report is slightly different.

Firstly, we focus on sharing some examples of how the procurement supply chain and spend management communities have stepped up to help deal with the crisis with valuable contributions from SAP Ariba, Rosslyn Data Technologies, HICX, C2FO, Risk Methods and Sievo. 

Secondly, and not forgetting the history of this publication, we report on the job market trends dating back to our last report in October 2019 and take this commentary up to the point where it became clear that Coronavirus was going to have a significant impact on Europe.

Finally, we report on what we are doing as a business for our clients and how our unique offering is still proving valuable and will continue to do so in the future.”

You can download the report here: The Procurement and Spend Management Insider, Spring 2020

What is Oracle offering the Procurement profession?

Oracle Open World was the first big technology conference of the new decade that caught my attention.

I’d heard rumours for a while that they were in the process of stepping up their capability and presence in the market.

Going back a couple of years they were regular contributors at eWorld but they weren’t at either event in 2019.

However, people in my network, mainly experienced sales people, mentioned that they had received approaches on Oracle’s behalf and for a while, people in the sector talked of them as the most likely company to buy Coupa.

That talk quieted down last year, probably due to the Coupa share price, but I thought it well worth attending the event at London’s ExCel conference centre to see where procurement (and supply chain) features on their agenda.

I think it’s important to state this event was very much covering the entire Oracle technology stack so it was never going to be all about procurement.

However, there were very few familiar faces from the procurement world at any of the lead sponsors’ stands, the likes of Deloitte, Accenture and IBM all of whom are regulars at the likes of Procurement Leaders, Ariba Live and Coupa Inspire.

And despite a large number of sponsors and partners spread across a very large area (I hit my step count for the day by 10.37am 😁) there was little evidence of anyone with a clear procurement or supply chain focus.

So I searched the event app to see what I could find.

Early in the day, there was a supply chain presentation led by a US based FD, which I thought was a strange choice. Unfortunately, it clashed with an opening keynote covering diversity in the workplace. Looking at the solution later on the stand (see enclosed pic) it is clearly focused on transport and planning.

However, during lunchtime there was the only dedicated procurement session I could find on the app. It featured Nina Junehead, Merchandising & Replenishment CIO of Swedish retailer ICA.

There wasn’t much time to dig into the capability of the solution in a 15 minute presentation, but the discussion around how ICA is going to manage its Supplier and SKU data going live on the Oracle data hub in the next few weeks was the most interesting element.

Obviously it’s difficult to judge the capability of the solution on so little evidence, but it didn’t feel like they are ready to go head to head with the likes of SAP Ariba, Coupa and Ivalua. It occurred to me that this could be an opportunity for some of the best of breed tools to target Oracle’s install base.

So I have to conclude that the amount of time dedicated to procurement at this event perhaps tells its own story about Oracle’s priorities.

Those priorities were in sharp focus when the CEO gave her opening keynote.

She talked about Oracles second-generation cloud being “like no other” with the emphasis on greater security. She told us how not even Oracle can see your data. She referred to an architecture driven by people who understand the criticality of customer data.

In an effort to reassure customers still operating in premise she told everyone that even Oracle is running public cloud and that the true digital enterprise benefits from using the vast quantity of data held privately and securely. Other comments that got my attention included:

>> AI and ML don’t just sit on the side, they’re implemented throughout the tech stack and being used in many ways.

>> Supply chain planning that once took weeks now takes an hour.

>> HR can analyse employee performance using it in their HCM solution.

>> Finance is operating with virtually no manual entries and all sorts of analytical tools.

She asked the audience “Are you truly in the cloud? Are you getting updates every 90 days, patched and upgraded without you touching all on the same code. Otherwise you are faux cloud.” A statement that felt like it was aimed at some of the competition.

She told us that they are investing $6bn dollars a year on R&D for its cloud solutions. Let’s hope some of that goes on procurement!