Life is really simple

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” As true today as it was when Confucius said it two and a half thousand years ago.

Two recent articles about procurement claim that complexity is the main challenge for today’s Chief Procurement Officer (CPO).

The highly regarded writer, Peter Smith, lists some of the subjects CPOs are expected to have mastered today that weren’t considered important a decade ago. The Rana Plaza disaster put modern slavery and health and safety on the agenda. Climate change, deforestation and use of plastics are as difficult as they are topical. And we should not forget economic and political issues like the China–United States trade war and Brexit (as if we could).

The recently published Deloitte Insights splits complexity into two categories: “Bad complexity” introduces risk, hampers procurement performance and should be eradicated; “good complexity” can be exploited to expand procurement’s influence beyond the traditional services of sourcing, purchase to pay and contracts.

Both articles see digital transformation and the appropriate use of technology as the only way to master this complexity. There is no other way to manage large volumes of data across such a diverse range of subjects. Digital transformations requires significant investment from the CPO and the organisation at large. Unfortunately, life is not going to get any simpler, so it’s better to invest sooner rather than later.

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