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.