While challenges abound, particularly amid the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, the procurement profession is one of the most interesting – and important – places to be right now.

This is according to Professor Karsten Machholz, international professor for supply chain management and procurement, strategic consultant and post Covid-19 supply chains activist at the University of Göttingen in Germany.

Speaking at the 2021 Smart Procurement World Indaba, South Africa’s longest-standing thought leadership event for procurement and inbound supply chain professionals, he stressed that procurement today is about much more than just ensuring supply at the lowest price.

“Procurement can help to secure the future of our post-pandemic world. We need supply chains that are agile, resilient and sustainable, and procurement has a critical role to play in this transformation. Procurement drives bottom line cost savings; we ensure quality; drive supplier innovation; and we bring new products to the market. We are also the drivers of sustainability because we are selecting our supplier base.”

Machholz likens procurement to the spider in a web – connected to all internal and external functions. “This is a great challenge, but also a great opportunity for procurement professionals,” he told delegates at the 15th annual Smart Procurement World Indaba, which saw hundreds of procurement and inbound supply chain professionals gather online to learn, share knowledge and network.

This year’s milestone conference closed amid rave reviews from delegates, the organisers report, reinforcing the indaba’s well-earned reputation as the highlight of the profession’s annual calendar.

Commenting on the event’s growth and success since the inaugural indaba 15 years ago, Smart Procurement World chief operating officer Debbie Tagg says: “The last 15 years have been an amazing journey of learning, collaboration and building of long lasting relationships. I feel that this anniversary also marks the introduction of a new generation of leaders into supply chain and procurement. As a community we need to give them the greatest support and chance to take our profession to new heights. We also now have a redefined approach to procurement and supply chain, ensuring that we look forward and not behind us.”

The 2021 Smart Procurement World Indaba focused on redefining the profession, which has faced enormous pressure during the Covid-19 crisis. “This year’s theme was ‘Redefine’. Our aim was to equip delegates with the skills and knowledge to rise to the challenges now and in a post-pandemic world, and to seize opportunities to build organisations and economies that are resilient and sustainable,” Tagg expands.

She says that the feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive.