Purchasing, together with the other core functions of the production, logistics and sales value chain, is extremely challenged to adapt flexibly to the ups and downs of the markets. In a complex world, companies should not only focus on cleaning up their balance sheet structures, but above all on powerful and efficient agility in purchasing. Prof. Dr. Therefore, in its latest study, Komus states: Agile methods are becoming increasingly important in companies. Methods and principles from the areas of “Scrum”, “IT Kanban” and “Design Thinking” are not only playing an increasingly important role in IT development. Against the background of challenges and opportunities through digitization, globalization, Industry 4.0 this development will continue to intensify.

Study on the topic of agile purchasing

On the subject of agile purchasing, a team from Koblenz worked with Prof. Dr. Ayelt Komus conducted an online survey in September and October 2016. According to information, 160 people took part. For the study, questionnaires were sent online to companies and the answers were then sent by the team led by Prof. Dr. Komus evaluated.

Results of the study on the subject of agile purchasing

Overall, Prof. Dr. Komus found in his study that agile methods could fundamentally change purchasing and that many companies are not yet optimally set up for agility in purchasing. The study provides arguments that agile methods in purchasing are still largely unknown or that careful approach is taking place. Overall, the authors summarize the results of the study as follows:

  • Almost three quarters of those surveyed expect fundamental changes for purchasing when using agile methods.
  • More than 85% of those surveyed do not see themselves as being well positioned as buyers with regard to agile methods.
  • “Acceptance of the changes among employees in purchasing” is perceived by the participants as the greatest challenge in the further development of purchasing.
  • Participants expect the most far-reaching changes in the “coordination with the specialist department”.
  • Participants expect the most far-reaching effects in areas related to software or product development.
  • For more than 60% of those surveyed, the changes and challenges of Industry 4.0 and agile methods are the same.
  • Only 6% of those surveyed are currently actively and constructively dealing with the changes brought about by agile methods.

Recommendations and conclusion

At the end, Prof. Dr. Komus made some recommendations based on the study. Purchasing should be taught the basics of agility and agility should also be better defined in the context of purchasing. So it is currently unclear what agility actually means in purchasing.
The study is certainly a great stimulus for purchasing managers to be more agile in a complex world and to improve purchasing management. Basically, however, agile methods can certainly help in purchasing and should be considered. So now it’s up to you to think about how you could make yours more agile.
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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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