On the Tuesday of last week, we attended the Defence Procurement and Supply Chain Event (DPRTE) in Cardiff. This was our first time in attendance so we were very much walking into the unknown. For those that haven’t been, the event caters very specifically to the Aerospace and Defence supply chain and as such the MOD were in attendance alongside many of the major contractors and those looking to supply their goods and services into these organisations.
The variety of attendees led to a number a lot of interesting conversations. For us, the area of interest was always going to be around how companies were managing their suppliers and what their issues are. Here is a breakdown of these.
- Risk & Compliance is vital
This is hardly a surprise given the sector in question, yet what was especially interesting was the number of smaller companies that were looking to be proactive and digitise their processes early on. This was partly to allow them to show potential customers that they are fully compliant, easily and at the click of a button and partly as they wanted to make sure they could automate these processes in the long term.
As many of the companies we talked to were growing quickly, being able to see what was going on within their supply chains was a big issue. Paper, excel and elastic bands were ruling the roost for many and needed to be organised as soon as possible. There was another side to this too. Without transparency, there was a significant amount of duplication of work. When a supplier has already been onboarded there should be no need to onboard them again.
- Digital is foundational
It wasn’t so long ago that digital solutions weren’t the primary focus. Companies had grown to become multi billion dollar enterprises with limited help from tech solutions and understandably their processes had been designed around paper forms, telephones and spreadsheets.
Understandably, it has been harder for large companies to move from this old way of thinking and manual processes into entirely digital processes. It is also difficult to tell where to start. This is especially true in the procurement world in which the market can often look confusing to even the most knowledgeable of us. Smaller, newer, companies though, don’t have this problem and as such are looking to install foundational systems as early as possible. As such they were interested in building from the data first then all the way through to accurate analytics.
- Duplication & Centralisation
I have already mentioned this but it deserves its own section. Yes, I have duplicated duplication as a subject, hopefully that’s done nothing but emphasise what a time waster it is!
Back to the issue. Duplication was a point that was touched on mainly by representatives from larger organisations. They were seeing a significant amount of duplication at work across multiple divisions with the same supplier being onboarded multiple times and saving opportunities being missed. More than this though, it was the lack of oversight and good quality analytics. The solution they were looking for here was a centralised one, that allowed for flexibility on a division by division basis or simply by geographies.
- Multiple ERPs & High Quality Data
This is a typical issue from larger corporations. When multiple ERPs exist then it makes it very difficult for P2P solutions to be implemented. It’s pretty common to hear about implementations being held up for years. This is because the data varies from one ERP iteration to another and there is no golden record. In order to counter this, a number of forward thinking CPOs were looking to get their data organised by creating one golden record.
All in all it was an interesting day and we look forward to working with a number of those we spoke to over the next few months. Hopefully the bullets above will give you a good idea of what the procurement world in A&D is interested in.