Future-Proofing Procurement: Key Insights from the ISM Conference

The future of procurement involves balancing cost efficiency with innovation and sustainability.
Future-Proofing Procurement: Key Insights from the ISM Conference

As a Senior Supply Chain Recruiter at SCOPE Recruiting, attending the recent ISM conference provided valuable insights into the evolving landscape of procurement. The "State of the Procurement Profession Survey 2024," a collaborative effort between ISM and experts like Christoph Bode, Ruth Schültken, and Marcell Vollmer, offers a thorough examination of current trends and future directions in procurement. Here’s a detailed look at the key findings from the survey and their implications for our profession.


Current Economic Climate: Cautious Optimism

The survey, which included responses from 336 professionals globally, indicates a cautiously optimistic view of the economic climate within procurement. Despite challenges in the broader industry environment, 58% of respondents assessed the current economic conditions positively. This sentiment is expected to persist over the next 12 months, setting a stable foundation for procurement strategies.


Key Priorities: Cost Management, Resilience, and Digital Transformation

The survey highlights the prioritization of cost management, resilience, and digital transformation within procurement organizations. Cost management remains the foremost concern, with 39% of procurement professionals emphasizing its importance in sourcing decisions. However, there's a growing focus on resilience and digital transformation, reflecting the need to adapt to an increasingly complex supply chain environment.

The emphasis on digital transformation underscores ongoing challenges with technology adoption. Despite investments, technology continues to be a significant roadblock, with many organizations falling short of their digitalization goals. Addressing these challenges will be crucial for unlocking new efficiencies and capabilities in procurement.


Entrepreneurial Orientation: Enhancing Competitiveness

Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO), which includes dimensions like risk-taking, proactiveness, and innovativeness, emerges as a critical factor for competitiveness in procurement. Organizations with high EO scores navigate performance constraints more effectively, particularly in technology adoption and process improvements.

For instance, companies with high EO are further along in their digitalization journeys and encounter fewer technology-related obstacles. This suggests that fostering an entrepreneurial mindset within procurement teams can drive innovation and resilience.


Structural Insights and Reporting Lines

The survey also examines the structural setup of procurement organizations. A significant portion of procurement teams report directly to the CFO (25%), followed by the COO (22%) and CEO (21%). This reporting structure highlights the financial oversight and strategic importance of procurement. Additionally, the survey explores various operating models, from centralized to decentralized decision-making and from globalized to localized structures, which influence procurement's effectiveness in managing supplier relationships and achieving strategic goals.


Sustainability and Stakeholder Pressures

Sustainability remains a critical focus, though the survey notes a slight decrease in pressure from stakeholders compared to previous years. While top management emphasizes sustainability, implementation within procurement often lags, leading to a disconnect that needs addressing. Companies recognize the importance of integrating sustainable practices, but consistent execution remains challenging.


Human Element: Satisfaction and Remote Work

On the human side, there is a notable decrease in satisfaction with procurement organizations, despite overall satisfaction with the procurement profession. This dissatisfaction is linked to various factors, including digitalization efforts and organizational culture.

Procurement professionals now work remotely an average of 10.6 days per month, with a preference to increase this to 13.3 days. This shift towards remote work reflects broader workplace trends and presents both opportunities and challenges for maintaining team cohesion and productivity.



The future of procurement involves balancing cost efficiency with innovation and sustainability. At SCOPE Recruiting, we aim to support organizations in building resilient and forward-thinking procurement teams. If you are looking to enhance your procurement capabilities or explore new career opportunities in this field, we are here to help.

For more detailed insights, you can read the full State of the Procurement Profession Survey 2024. For further information on digital transformation in procurement, check out this article from Gartner.


Stay informed about the latest trends in procurement by partnering with SCOPE Recruiting. Contact us today to learn more about our specialized recruitment services and how we can assist you in achieving your strategic goals.


Friddy Hoegener


17 May 2024

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