Do you know the meaning of responsiveness? This word, which has gained impulse with the emergence of Internet and different types of communication devices (mobile phones, tablets, desktops, etc.) means the ability to respond quickly – or properly – to uncertain scenarios and circumstances.

As occurs with the content of a website or application – which must be adapted to the device being presented – people, professionals and businesses must also make adjustments to face different challenges and realities.

In the third edition of the ME B2B Summit, which took place in November last year, we talked about this topic from a procurement perspective, and invited top executives from the procurement area to share their learnings over the last two years.

Keep on reading to see a summary of everything that was discussed there!

In uncertain scenarios, the watchword in procurement is “resilience”

To talk about the “Tweaking the procurement area in real time” topic, we invited Jerson Nascimento, CPO at JBS South America; Celina Maria, Manager of Supplies and Imports at Sotreq; and Leandro Chirinea, CPO at Nestlé Brazil. Flavio Barreiro, Supply Chain and Operations Leader for Accenture Latin America, mediated the conversation – which brought several important insights to professionals.

After almost two years of many uncertainties, the chat started, of course, with all lessons learned during the covid-19 crisis; and the word “resilience” was the most recalled by executives.

At the start of this pandemic, keeping the continuity of operations, mainly due to the shortage of personal protective items, was one of the biggest challenges. Inflationary pressure and the difficulty in guaranteeing price were also recalled as facts that gave way to one of the most threatening moments for professionals.

Uncertain procurement scenarios: the 7 key lessons learned

1. Adaptability is crucial

Being able to adapt to changes quickly and facing adversity as a learning experience are ways to lessen impacts in moments of crisis. After all, no company is always 100% prepared for that.

In this sense, showing resilience is one of the skills that allows reacting better in the face of uncertain scenarios.

2. Nobody builds anything alone

Certainly, this pandemic showed the importance of people to be united for a common goal: to get out of this phase in the best possible way. Teamwork was vital to face one of our most difficult historical periods.

People’s motivation to learn quickly and to seek partnerships, in order to mitigate problems, was essential during this period.

3. Remote work really works

The accomplishment of teams and of leadership at a distance was one of the most significant findings for businesses. According to the involved professionals, “it had to be that, or we would have experienced even greater chaos with regard to supplies”.

The new work format wasn’t a huge surprise. This movement had already taken place before, in a timid way; and it has proved now to be very effective for businesses, with the possibility of expanding the diversity of people even more.

4. Having suppliers as partners is more valuable than price

The choice of the cheapest purchase is now a thing of the past. Today, we must consider the procurement strategy as a whole. Therefore, in B2B procurement, paying less isn’t always the best option.

We know the best allies in times of crisis – and not always are the ones who guarantee the higher savings.

5. Diversity of suppliers brings multiple benefits

Having a diversified supplier base is crucial to face uncertain scenarios. Even if you already have long-term partners, unforeseen events can happen at any time.

For this reason, the constant mapping of suppliers, who can meet the key requirements for the company’s supplies, is indispensable and very beneficial.

6. External scenarios are relevant

Looking at what is happening in other countries and how the market is reacting are attitudes that help to anticipate possible events.

The slowdown in the Chinese economy, already expected for the next few years, for instance, will make Brazil one of the main victims, according to a report by Folha de São Paulo Brazil’s newspaper.

7. Diversified teams provide better results

Studies have already proven that diversity brings innovation.

Therefore, investing in the plurality of procurement teams is a must, to help the company to stay competitive, productive and sustainable in the long term.

Relevance and importance of procurement for businesses

The procurement area is more and more relevant and connected to the business, being now responsible not only for providing savings, but also as one of the departments with more innovation to showcase. And this was mainly due to the transformations imposed by past crises.

Consequently, the profile of the procurement professional had to change. Technical knowledge alone, which remains relevant, is no longer enough. Now behavioral skills are required to work in such a dynamic and complex area.

Digital transformation is also a reality in the supplies area. Digital tools that automate procurement management and help freeing buyers from operational processes are also vital now. As a result, professionals focus on strategies that bring results to businesses – such as knowing their partners in depth and identifying the best business opportunities.

Digitization isn’t an imposition, it’s a culture. Therefore, one of the skills of procurement leaders of the future is not to be afraid of technology. In opposition to what is still said in businesses, procurement management solutions don’t pose a threat to buyers’ activities.

These tools have been created to improve the most complex issues. Therefore, leaders have an important role to play in communicating all advantages and making changes in a  gradual way.