Should CPOs be at the top table?

In an organisation, procurement is not usually considered a strategically-important department. So, chief procurement officers…...

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In an organisation, procurement is not usually considered a strategically-important department. So, chief procurement officers (CPOs) and procurement professionals are seen as administrators responsible for negotiating and purchasing things for departments that make the strategic decisions. However, CPOs have argued for years that they should be at the top table rather than relegated to the back room.

Many CPOs reckon that, by being part of the boardroom, they could fix many issues that procurement has to go through, including non-compliance by other departments. Some experts believe that CPOs can only be added to the inner circle if they adopt the best procurement practices and advocate procurement so that other departments realise the value procurement adds to the organisation.

Breaking down the roadblocks

The executive who the CPO reports to has a major role in removing any barriers that the CPO and procurement experience. They should support the role and profile of procurement in the organisation and set priorities. So, to eliminate obstacles, CPOs should develop good relationships with their reporting executives. It will allow procurement to contribute to the company’s goals and strategies, and also let other departments know procurements significance.

However, for procurement to be a genuine strategic partner, the CPO must become part of the board. Otherwise, the department will play a supporting role and never be able to fulfil its potential of adding value to the bottom line.

The final word

CPOs can build good relationships with the CFOs and CEOs of their organisation, but CPOs must find a place at the top table to align procurement goals with those of the organisation. It will give the department independence to function for the betterment of the organisation. Also, CPOs are successors to CEOs, and being at the top table will let them experience hands-on training.

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