Business Leader recently spoke to Steve Bolt, a Director at BCR Associates, a procurement consultancy based in the South West, to discuss how the industry has changed over the last year, and what we can expect to see in 2021.
What are the key procurement challenges faced by businesses in 2021?
The biggest challenge from a procurement perspective is that the world is now a very, very different place. The global pandemic has caused so many difficulties in terms of getting items sent around the world – and with Brexit, there are yet more challenges for us all to face. If you look at what has happened at Dover and other seaports already – clearly there are yet more hurdles to contend with. Moving forward, suppliers will need to make the supply chain process more robust and easier to follow.
What do you think should be a company’s top procurement priority this year?
Procurement is all about key spend – so working out what that is for the individual company is vital. There are so many variables, it’s important to have clear long-term objectives aligned with budget plans. Prioritising key spend areas and leaving flexibility to adapt to changing economic environments is crucial. To do this, you will need to assess the market, analyse current deals for energy, insurance, telecoms, etc, and plan as far ahead as possible. If you must buy, then do it, but if you can plan ahead you will save money.
What other challenges are facing the business world at present?
Cash flow. Due to the pandemic, a large proportion of businesses have struggled financially. They have also had to adapt to working around the pandemic and preparing for the changes to procurement that Brexit will inevitably cause. Making sure that you have good control of your finances will help you to prepare for what is ahead. As an example, savvy decision makers renewed their energy contracts during the pandemic when the price of fuel was cheap. Buying at the right time will help maximise cash flow and resources.
What are the key procurement trends in the marketplace for 2021?
A large proportion of our supply chain in the UK, is not owned by a UK company. Whether it is telecoms or energy, for example, they are owned by foreign companies and with new borders in place, industries will change. This year companies will need to find out whether what they are buying will continue to be available at a price which is affordable.
How much will sustainability and the environment play a part in purchasing decisions in 2021?
It is coming. The government has set ambitious Net-Zero targets and as we go through the process of decarbonisation, UK businesses are being forced to look at their day-to-day operations and their impact on the environment. The affordability of larger carbon reduction projects will be a challenge for many businesses, and this is where reducing consumption and smart procurement strategies will come into play to allow for the necessary investment.
How can BCR help businesses to prepare for the future?
Our process when dealing with clients is straightforward. We work to understand what they need today, five years from now, and beyond. We consider long-term strategic elements such as reducing carbon emissions as well as short-term procurement needs. We help our clients to review their balance sheet, we are often the catalyst to freeing up money and restructuring how they operate in certain areas. This allows our clients make better, risk-free decisions, and add to their bottom line. Ultimately this helps to drive growth and allows them to focus on their core business.
For help with your business’ procurement challenges, please get in touch with Steve on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 03330 433 233