In the realm of procurement, innovation and change are constant companions. An insightful interview with Helen Mackenzie, head of sales and community for Art of Procurement, is featured in Manufacturing Magazine.

Interview to Anna Chatzi

For Greek-speaking readers, the complete conversation with Helen can be found in the recent article on Procurement in the latest issue of Manufacturing Magazine. In this interview, we dive into the evolving landscape of procurement, examining the impact of technology, strategies for supply chain resilience, and the delicate balance between cost-effectiveness and sustainability. Join us on this journey of discovery as we navigate the shifts and trends in the world of procurement.

-How have advancements in technology, such as automation and AI, impacted the traditional procurement methods in the manufacturing sector? Are there any specific success stories or challenges you could share?

One area where we’ve seen technology have a real benefit is access to data, but not just any data, intelligence that is critical at the decision-making stage. This is true for all industries but particularly manufacturing. We think it’s key to 10X the impact of procurement. If procurement doesn’t show up with relevant data or uniquely synthesized information, they will struggle to connect with the business beyond a tactical level. Differentiated decision making will remain beyond their reach.

Link to paper

-In today’s interconnected global economy, supply chain disruptions have become a common concern. From your viewpoint, what are the key strategies manufacturers should adopt to mitigate risks and ensure a steady flow of essential materials?

With all that real time information available there’s often the perception that procurement and supply chain have this covered.  But the pivotal strategy from the conversations we’ve had with procurement executives and solution providers is finding the optimal balance of automation and human ingenuity in the fight against risk.  Having the data and automation without the people can mean mechanistic and templated responses that don’t always make sense.  Not having the data and relying on experience might mean risk is anticipated and managed at all.

Supply chain management decisions turn data into action. As long as data remains fragmented and problematic, the dream of advanced automation – with human participation – cannot be realized.

We see this being particularly true in manufacturing, where new product introductions are often a race to market and the culmination of years of investment and hard work. If the sourcing of direct materials is unsupported by data, plans to increase market share and competitive advantage will be hard to realize.

Link to article:

-The concept of sustainability and ethical sourcing is gaining traction. How do you see manufacturers balancing the need for cost-effective procurement with the growing importance of environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices?

We’re seeing a range of approaches. Some successful, others not so much. In a recent Dial P for Procurement podcast we highlighted three stories to show the difference in where sustainability, or more broadly ESG, is being approached. So, there’s not one clear path to success.

Using tech can help you track, assess and report on sustainability and ethical sourcing and that’s great news. Being able to use tech to provide insight that moves things forward, whether your organization has an ambitious net zero target or wants to eliminate slavery in your supply chain, is going to be a key skill in striking the balance between cost and sustainability objectives.

Link to podcast: