An Interview on Learnings From Podcasting on Supply Chain and Procurement with Kelly Barner
For this episode of Supplier Experience Live from HICX we are joined by Kelly Barner, Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point, to discuss her experience of working in the supply chain podcast and procurement podcast space over the years, the changes and advancements in the industry in the last few decades and what we can expect to see in the future.
How it all started – Podcasting on Supply Chain & Procurement
Kelly starts the discussion by recounting how experts in the procurement and supply chain industry have become much more prominent today, and how their voices have proliferated – which was not the case in the past. Not only were experts less interested in building their personal brand, there was generally no appetite for it. Ultimately, LinkedIn changed the game forever, as it allowed professionals to connect and share insights.
Regarding the changes within the industries, Kelly highlights two perspectives; providers’ and practitioners’ perspectives. The main change from the technology providers’ side in the last five years has been in their willingness to upgrade their services using other providers, who are often also their competitors. Kelly states, “The fact that providers are willing to talk about each other means that they have to be educated about each other’s solutions, which advances everybody’s platform development. “
On the other hand, from the practitioners’ perspective, there has not been as much change, however, advancements have been made. Kelly points out in the past all the systems and processes were adopted in a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach, without a regard for individual differences. The shortcomings of this method have been recognized as the focus shifts to providing more efficiency, value and security.
Drivers of change
In terms of drivers of change, Kelly states COVID-19 has most recently revamped the way many businesses operate. One conversation in particular stood out to her, as she explains how pre-pandemic janitorial services were chosen based on price, efficiency and the value provided. However, as Kelly continues, they have since become an HR concern, as not only do facilities need to be COVID-19 safe, but the people using facilities – both staff and customers – need to feel safe as well.
She concludes, “It’s gone overnight from being all about cost and scale and checking boxes to being highly strategic, perception based – and truthfully Procurement needing to pull in HR to address signage and determine what the new cleaning requirements are going to be.”
Kelly also points out how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the procurement and supply chain industries to the forefront as the general public is now aware of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. “It’s a good opportunity for us to evangelise procurement and supply chain as career paths but we need to be careful not to get swept up in the way these stories are covered for general consumption,” she adds.
When discussing how the pandemic has impacted businesses, to the point where they were unable to source the goods from suppliers, Kelly highlights the importance of building better supplier relationships, adding, “We have to think about our suppliers with the same level of regard and respect, we have to think about having some type of appropriate relationship with them, while understanding that the details of those relationships – and the daily operational challenges – are not going to be the same.”
What’s next for procurement?
On the future of the procurement industry, Kelly comments the quality of data is a big problem which needs to be addressed. The processes that have been established in the last few decades simply cannot be sustainable long-term if the quality of data is not “up to par.” Once data quality issue is solved, procurement will become an automated function driven by data, Kelly foresees.
She also claims procurement and supply chain professionals like to engage which is why live in-person events, in conjunction with digital discussions and panels will soon see a comeback.