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  • Nils Robertsson

A new generation of buyers is not attracted by Excel routines

During Almedalen Week in Visby, there has been a recurring theme for a few years: "Digital generational change - which new stars will get the top jobs?" It has been about the digital talents of the future, who they are and how they need to be given space in companies' organizations. This also applies to purchasing. When a wave of digitalization sweeps over society, companies' purchasing functions are also affected.

A very likely consequence is that newly trained and ambitious buyers will be attracted to companies with digitized routines. One question we think many companies should ask themselves when it's time to recruit new buyers is therefore; "How attractive are we as employers, and does our purchasing organization have the digital system support that makes the purchasing job attractive"?

The key is digital engagement at the management level

PromoSoft's customers are at the forefront when it comes to realizing the value of digitizing, automating, and quality-assuring purchasing processes and inventory management. They have left traditional, time-consuming and person-dependent excel routines behind. For many of our customers, purchasing issues have also been raised to a strategic level in step with an increased insight into the great values ​​the purchasing function can create for a business. There is also a digital commitment at management level that includes the purchasing function, and it has paved the way for the development of more profitable purchasing strategies and more efficient work routines. At the same time, we know that there are still too many companies where buyers are forced to work with spreadsheets as work tools.

Making inventory levels using Excel is not optimal. It is time consuming, the uncertainty factors are many, the risk of human error as well and the time is seldom enough for more strategic purchasing work. There are many talented buyers who have this as their workday. They solve tasks in a good way despite the conditions and they have the trust of the management. But what happens on the day it's time to recruit new skills for purchasing? What does a new generation of buyers expect? Hardly working with spreadsheets, that's our belief. Broadening the digital commitment at management level to include purchasing will be a success factor when it comes to recruiting future buyers.

Buyers must also see the possibilities of digitalization

The organization SOI, Sweden's Public Buyers, describes an area of expertise called "Digitization and IT-based working methods". It is noted that the distinctive skills needed in the area are both knowledge and experience of digital tools, but also the ability to see the possibilities of digitalization. It is stated that it is not only a matter of working as a buyer to benefit from the benefits of digitalization, but also as a buyer to actively participate, show interest and address oneself by pushing for the digital dialogue within an organization.

Many of SOI's views on digitalization can be transferred to the private business's purchasing organizations. We should hardly doubt that there is a high probability of a strong digital interest among a new generation of buyers. An indication of this is the Institute of Business Administration's (FEI) training "Qualified Buyers". The education has for many years been established as one of the most important for those who want to make a career in purchasing. A look at the course content gives an idea of ​​where the buyers of the future have their focus. These include overall strategy issues, methods and working methods, efficient inventory management, IT support and business aspects of the purchasing process.

We do not think that those who leave this university education are attracted to a workplace where Excel becomes the daily work tool!

Lack of skills one of several trends in purchasing

That we think it is worth writing in a blog about the requirements that a new generation of buyers may set is based on the rapid development we see in purchasing in terms of automation, digitization and soon also AI. When one of the leading purchasing consulting companies last year listed five important trends in purchasing, digitization, automation and artificial intelligence were some of the most important. These trends create another trend: the risk of skills shortages. More competence will be required at different levels of management, but also with buyers who must understand how to make the best possible use of new digital tools.

PromoSoft is at the forefront when it comes to digitizing purchasing processes. We also want to take the lead in raising issues that will be a consequence of the development we are involved in driving forward. One such issue is the expectations of new generation buyers. We believe that these will be an important driving force in the development of profitability-driven purchasing and inventory management routines. If they are met by a positive audience and understanding from a committed management that provides good support, and the right digital tools, the road to a more profitable business with great added value will be significantly shorter. At the same time, they will be attracted to working in such an environment.

In conclusion, we would like to quote a few lines that summarized a large annual conference for buyers: “The entire organization needs to be on the train to succeed with a business development that focuses on profit realization and profit-taking. Without curious and brave buyers, strategists and managers, we will not get the innovations in purchasing that many companies and organizations need! ”

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