Procurement and the Intersection of Digital, Data, Measurement and Value

A Roundtable Recap

In October, Stagwell Group and ForwardPMX hosted a virtual roundtable to bring together procurement leaders from around the globe to talk about the current landscape. The discussion, “Breaking Down the Silos: Procurement and the Intersection of Digital, Data, Measurement and Value,” hosted by Supriya Dev-Purkaystha and Alexis Williams covered a range of topics, focusing on the integral role procurement plays in strategic planning and delivering on business results.

During the 90-minute conversation, many themes surfaced including how companies and procurement offices were forced to reprioritize due to the pandemic, the importance of agility and maintaining flexibility as business needs evolve and the central roles of effective communication, alignment and trust in relationships among procurement leaders, marketers and suppliers. Below are key takeaways from the discussion.

Reprioritization and Agility

2020 was the year of pivoting; constant reassessing, re-evaluating and reprioritizing. Across the conversation, however, the common thread among brands was that while cost saving was important, COVID has proven to be a catalyst for identifying the best partners, prioritizing digital platforms and using what they have in the best possible way.

This resulted in shifting budgets, driving more towards digital and the increased focus on ecommerce to meet consumer expectations. As one participant noted, her company’s “first phase was based on cash flow, changes in contracts, negotiations to save costs and adapt to the situation. The second phase was to look at the future and future partnerships, contracts and performance.” A second participant echoed those sentiments noting that historically, her organization was always focused on cost savings but later began to look at additional KPIs to evaluate performance and brand awareness.

Communication is Key and Trust is Built Through Alignment

Communication was a central topic of the conversation, with many participants sharing the crucial role effective communication plays not only in the maintenance and growth of business, but also the maintenance and growth of relationships both internally and with external suppliers. Often, once procurement onboards a supplier, brand marketers take over. Going forward, the true partnership between procurement, marketing teams and agencies is critical to success. One participant mentioned the value of regular meetings where goals and priorities are discussed as are the tactics and strategies to achieve these. She noted, in an environment where the landscape is constantly changing, all participants must be informed and aligned on ever-changing priorities. Another procurement leader spoke of the role communication plays in long term-relationships with suppliers. She emphasized the value of long-term relationships over ad-hoc relationships to drive results and enable greater success. As she noted, “we have to continue as partners to be in it for the long-term rather than just jump in for the short term.”

Participants noted that with effective communication, trust and alignment will follow. Alignment of goals, KPIs and their measurement are key to many participants and, according to one leader, alignment will drive the right behaviors, which, in turn, will build trust. One participant noted the need for absolute alignment between businesses and suppliers and once there is alignment, the need for businesses to trust the expertise of their suppliers by giving and receiving regular feedback. She noted the importance of companies feeling “comfortable requesting information from suppliers and suppliers feeling comfortable enough to provide” answers.

Digital Transformation Takes a Variety of Forms

Depending on their business, participants shared the importance of digital transformation in their worlds. For one participant, a positive change brought about by the forced shift in ways of working due to COVID has been the increased access to talent and capabilities that normally wouldn’t be available due to geographic limitations. He noted, “there has been increased agility by being able to access different talent.” A second participant mentioned the need to look at digital channels to determine which ones could produce the best ROI and the “need to spend and invest wisely in the right channels and have the right suppliers in place for the right channels.”

Finally, it was clear that everyone is trying to strike the right balance in what is an ever-changing time. To enable the necessary transformation, brands and suppliers need to come together to solve business challenges. There is no single answer to the complex challenges we all are navigating, and as a result, the partnership amongst partners is even more critical. Communication, collaboration and a digital-first approach are all crucial in the path forward across both brand and performance.

Emanuelle Caradec, Associate Global Category Manager — Marketing, Swarovski

Zoe Croccel, Brand/Marketing Sourcing Lead, EMEA, Nike

Christian Darbyshire, Head of Business Development, ForwardPMX

Supriya Dev-Purkaystha, Commercial Director, ForwardPMX

Lesley Eistetter, Procurement Consultant

Marina Kabus, Material Group Manager for Marketing & Communication Services (Research & Activation Categories), Swarovski

Katya Shirokaya, Global Procurement Manager Logistics, Bacardi

David Strome, Client Development Director in US, MediaSense

Heather Wadley, Integrated Media Sourcing Manager, Nike

Alexis Williams, EVP of Marketing, The Stagwell Group

Andrey Yarin, Indirect Procurement — EU, Bacardi

The Stagwell Group is a digital-first marketing company serving clients with simplicity and speed at scale. To learn more, head to www.stagwellgroup.com, or visit us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube.

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