After chairing the 2019 World Finance Forum of 250 CFOs, I was left seeing many parallels between the journeys and concerns of the Finance and Procurement functions…

Being relevant and value adding

Procurement spends a lot of time worrying about being at top table, and being a value adding function that delivers more than savings. Well…Finance worries about being more than just the provider of the numbers and how they can add more value to the business at large. It is unlikely that Procurement typically recognizes the extent to which Finance is worried about its brand and role in the business.

Business partnering – getting it to work

Business partnering is in vogue at the moment. Just as many CPOs are trying to figure out what a business partner really looks like, so too is Finance. Both are working on how to bring this alive and where to find the people. The Finance and Procurement professionals of the future may not look like the professionals of the past and may be quite similar to each other.

The functions will both be kite shaped

I have written elsewhere that digitisation is going to squeeze the base of the Procurement function, moving from being a pyramid structure to being like a kite. With this, and Procurement needs to figure out what the characteristics of the shoulders are. Finance is on the same path and faces the same challenge.

The data still needs to be sorted

Procurement has been grappling with sorting out its data for many years. Of course, Procurement’s data path is a subset of a broader data journey. By definition, until Procurement has finished its data journey, Finance can’t have completed theirs. And many Finance functions are still trying to sort their data accuracy.

Robotic automation

Both Finance and Procurement are beginning to grapple with it, but have for the most part only made baby steps.

It is easy for Procurement functions to operate in a vacuum. But in doing this, they do not realise that other parts of the business are on similar journeys and share the same concerns. I suspect that having insight into these journeys might help Procurement demonstrate a degree of empathy which can be harnessed to their advantage.


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