Kent Mahoney

18 January 2021
Topics in this article
  • Risk & Resilience

COVID-19 posed huge challenges to businesses around the world. As we look ahead in the New Year, US businesses face the additional uncertainty of the continuing pandemic and an administration with a new approach to economic recovery, global trade, and the business environment as a whole.

But this uncertainty will also bring opportunities. Change became a necessity in 2020 and businesses that are quick to react to the new reality in 2021 have a chance to thrive and outperform their competitors.

Procurement professionals will be central to driving the organizational change needed to succeed. After playing a key role in getting businesses back on the front foot last year, business leaders will increasingly turn to procurement to drive adaptation and deliver a competitive advantage in 2021.

While we cannot predict the future, our recent Procurement in 2021 Report features views from several top procurement professionals and highlights the themes shaping their agenda in 2021.

The shifting role of procurement

Cost optimization remains a key priority for many leaders, but the importance of other aspects of procurement, such as risk management, supplier management, and social value is expected to grow in 2021. Positive organizational change for business will be essential as the Biden administration looks to implement its ‘Build Back Better’ initiatives and drive economic recovery throughout the year.

So, while cost optimization is no new thing for many businesses, the desire from business leaders for procurement to lead the way in delivering savings for their organizations is likely to accelerate through 2021.

Being at the heart of change

For all organizations, the pandemic has brought changes that will continue throughout 2021. Procurement is expected to be at the center of making those changes a reality, whether that is ensuring greater diversity across the industry or playing a core role in delivering sustainability goals.

The leaders featured in our Procurement in 2021 report were unanimous in their assertion that social value is set to be a bigger consideration going forward.

COVID-19 exposed logistical frailties and malpractice for some. As many organizations ensure that suppliers share the same values, procurement must evolve as the ‘conscious consumer’ continues to rise as public attention remains focused on ethics around company supply chains.

Engagement and wellbeing

Our ways of working have shifted significantly throughout 2020, with mass remote working set to continue well into 2021. Feeling connected to one another will be more important than ever, from maintaining those strong relationships with our customers to checking in on our colleagues to make sure they’re doing okay.

Our report has demonstrated that top procurement leaders are placing significant importance on supporting employee training and wellbeing ahead of what is set to be another challenging year.


For many businesses in the US, cost savings may remain the primary metric of value as they work to ensure short-term survival. However, this need for business resilience will be underpinned by innovation, employee wellbeing, and ESG across procurement practices, all of which are set to be key themes as we head in 2021.

To read the full Procurement in 2021 Report, please click below.

Procurement in 2021 report 2

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