Session Recap: Nordic Leaders Circle focused on procurement development

Blog title: Nordic Leaders Circle focused on procurement development

The Nordic Leaders Circle, about current trends within finance and procurement, hosted a panel discussion led by the journalist/ TV host Peter Nyman and Tuula Tuononen, Basware's Customer Insight Director. The panel with 6 Nordic CPOs shed a light on their views on the importance of digitalisation and ecosystems as well as the key factors for future success.

Tuula Tuononen concluded that due to Covid, the model of doing business has been thoroughly disrupted. Companies need to be prepared for unexpected changes in the future as well. Similarly, events like international politics or extreme weather can be expected to shake the “new normal” at any time. In these times of uncertainty, it is worth learning an agile operating model.

In companies, agility has been built on different starting points, but then many have focused on strengthening cooperation.

  • One of the key things is to change the way of thinking and working in a more proactive direction. It better to react than change, and then it is also possible to better anticipate the necessary measures, said Marko Väisänen, Purchasing Director, Eltel Networks.

Ville Halonen, Fortum's Purchasing Director, followed the same lines. Fortum has developed a lot in recent years.

  • The acquisition has shown that it can operate in an agile way. We have always strived to be as close to the business as possible. We have common KPIs and communication channels with the business.

Technology is expected to add value to decision making

Covid has not slowed down the technological development. Tuula Tuononen believes that in the future, more and more large companies will move from an ERP focus to a larger digital ecosystem that includes solutions from different vendors. Some of them may be produced for a very specific purpose. Panelists recognised the benefits to the ecosystem, but in the end, it’s always about how companies succeed in bringing about change.

Morten Brask, ISS World Services, mentioned that one of the most important tasks of new digital solutions is to bring added value to decision-making.

"Until ten years ago, there were no solutions available that would enable the company to achieve the kind of transparency that is possible today."

Marko Väisänen assured that people will not abandon tools whose benefits are self-evident to them.

  • The more digital the added value, the better. People need to experience the benefits in order to start using new solutions on a regular basis. To create an experience, in turn, you need to know how the solution works and what the benefits are. In the end, it is a matter of communication between people.

Ville Halonen said that in the past couple of years, Fortum has implemented Basware's P2P solution, among other things. He praised the introduction of the telecommuting era, despite the era of smooth telecommuting. He offered his own tips on how to get employees to commit to using new solutions.

  • One good way to motivate is to make KPIs easily accessible at first. When people first get simple enough tasks, they start using the new system.

Not everything can be automated

Pandemics and telecommuting have highlighted bottlenecks in manual labor. Digital tools are needed to work remotely, keep your business running and keep your customers happy. But where do the boundaries of automation of procurement processes ultimately go?

  • Purchasing processes are easier to automate. Automation is more challenging when it comes to contracting and negotiating, as they involve legal issues, among other things. In a way, those processes are always a conversation between people, Ville Halonen thought.
  • Some of the work can be automated, but there is a lot of work that requires people. I don't think procurement is ever fully automated, Marko Väisänen said.

"You shouldn't stay in your own silo"

After that, a new panelist trio came to the fore. It was agreed that the procurement organisation is an increasingly important strategic partner for other businesses, which also increases the importance of transparency. Peter Nyman asked for tips to increase transparency.

  • The procurement professional must be brave enough to bring new ideas to the table. We must not stay in our own silo, but we must increasingly cooperate with supply chain management and sales. This is how we are creating business intelligence together, Peikko Group's Sourcing Director Markku Koponen replied.

Realia Group VP & Group CPO Yaron Nadbornik emphasised the importance of data in creating transparency. As the speech turned to broader stakeholder management, Essity’s CPO & Vice President of Global Procurement Jessica Nordlinder emphasised building trust, but like Markku Koponen, also working closely together toward sales.

The keys to success

  • The pandemic did not necessarily set new long-term goals for companies. Responsibility and investing in digitalisation had been prio even before that. Jessica Nordlinder said the past year and a half has really only reinforced the desire to focus on these things.
  • Fortunately, we had started the wider digitisation of processes even before the corona. We are in a good situation now.
  • There must be solutions to create transparency throughout the supply chain, including third-party risk management. Responsibility issues have become the focus of the procurement organisation's operations, Markku Koponen summed up.
  • Yaron Nadbornik once again returned to the red thread of communication on both panels, naming his organisation’s number one priority.
  • We want to help contractors and suppliers be more efficient and customer-oriented, so that they understand that they take care of our customers in addition to the buildings. That is the key to our success.
  • Tuula Tuononen highlighted the cooperation. Procurement has a very good starting point for its development.
  • The strength of procurement professionals has always been cooperation. They have a helicopter view of the company’s various functions, stakeholders and suppliers. It has been important at a time when the business has not been allowed to stop despite rapid changes, she summed up.