As the tough federal budget continues to take a bashing, a new report may show how government businesses can find some more room to move.

Fairfax Media has commissioned a new Australasian Procurement Research Paper following a survey of over 300 procurement professionals.

It identified some of the key failings in procurement and tender functions for government bodies, but said that fixing them can bring a significant boost to the bottom line.

The survey says management staff in the “C-suite” - which refers to the tier where most titles begin with ‘C’; CEO, CFO, COO, CIO etc. – fail to recognise the importance and value of proper procurement.

“It’s the greatest function with the most cross-functional interaction and ability to add dollars to the real bottom line,” one respondent wrote.

Others said what was missing was; “Understanding in senior management that procurement is a key strategic tool that can be used to support and improve outcomes for all areas of the business. It is not just purchasing, and not just chasing lower price or cost. Often it is a driver for innovation, process improvement or joint ventures.”

The report highlights four central challenges facing purchasing and procurement professionals, in order of importance;

  1. Lack of procurement staff to meet expectations placed on procurement function
  2. Lack of time to perform procurement tasks
  3. Inadequate IT systems to support procurement tasks
  4. Difficulty meeting compliance/probity requirements and expectations

Respondents almost universally agreed that there is a need to boost the professional standing of procurement within organisations. They said the function is transforming from one of cost management to a strategically-focused role.

Some have suggested that procurement professionals asked to deliver value across supply chains need a patron at the top table, or even better, occupy an executive seat in their own right.

As one respondent noted; “The main challenge is the lack of understanding at executive level of the opportunities presented by procurement.

“As a new profession, few executives have been involved in procurement and if they were, it was the old purchasing function. It is rare to see procurement being allowed to influence significant process and operational changes at a strategic level and rare to see procurement considered strategically and early in the planning process.”

Overall, the central finding is that there is a clear appetite for enhanced professional recognition, both within individual enterprises, and for the profession at large.

It says Australasian purchasing and procurement professionals understand the responsibility they wield in balancing enterprise expectations with regard to value, transparency and speed.

One respondent summed-up the exciting yet challenging field of business:

“The procurement profession is frequently at the fulcrum of organisational change, both in the micro and the macro,” they said.

“It is never boring, it is people-focused and engages with lots of people. It is often complex and challenging, thus stimulating. If done well, it adds tremendous value to end-users and organisations.”