Sourcing's Dilemma: Balancing Disruption Management with C-Suite Expectations

Kerrie Kennedy

April 6, 2022

In October 2021, Keelvar released our first annual sourcing-themed market survey, the “2021 Voices of Sourcing Report,” which revealed the top priorities, challenges and experiences of more than 100 sourcing professionals. In a series of upcoming blogs, we’ll be discussing some critical topics and results from this inaugural survey that will annually take the temperature on sentiment, priorities, and obstacles to surmount. 

Download your complimentary copy of the Voices of Sourcing report 2021 here.

While most industries have seen disruption to some degree these past two years, ​​few sectors have been harder hit than those responsible for navigating bottlenecked supply chains and enacting supply chain strategies for business survival. And as highlighted in Keelvar’s Voices of Sourcing Report 2021, procurement and sourcing leaders have had plenty to reassess regarding managing their priorities to cope with new challenges. 

But while the sourcing function is no stranger to multitasking, the additional turbulence caused by acute supply chain congestion, material scarcity and port logjams is being made all the more difficult by increased expectations coming top-down from senior management, especially those tied to longer-term corporate goals.

Rising To Meet Expectations

Thanks in part to new sustainability legislation and increasing consumer awareness of supply chains, corporate ambitions for their business’s sourcing function have also expanded as the importance of procurement gains momentum.  As a result, ‘meeting the C-Suite’s increased sourcing expectations’ ranked high on the list in our survey as ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important for almost three-quarters of respondents – second only to managing the overall disruption encompassing the sector:

Chart 1

It’s a mighty challenge for teams to meet lofty top-down ambitions while constantly firefighting more immediate disruptions. As shown by the survey data, ‘managing competition to secure quality suppliers’ and ‘dealing with rising spot bids and/ or canceled contracts’ are also demanding more attention than ever from time-strapped sourcing workers.

For some, this increased strain on their mental energy is even leading to restless nights. When we directly asked about the sourcing priorities that ‘keeps them up at night,’ more than half of survey respondents reported losing sleep over sourcing priorities, including ‘meeting cost and reliability targets’, their ‘ability to react to disruption’, and ‘fluctuating supply and capacity constraints’:

Chart 2

What could the findings mean for procurement and sourcing professionals as they look to balance increasing workloads with even more emerging priorities (which is discussed in detail in the full report) in the months and years to come?

In many ways, the abundance of recent volatility has been a wake-up call for business leaders to hasten the push towards practices and priorities that optimize performance. One way to achieve this is through the use of modern e-sourcing technology that can enable sourcing teams to buy smarter, reduce business costs and identify potential roadblocks to strategic goals quickly and more effectively. 

Bearing similarities to 2021 research from Ardent Partners, Keelvar’s findings suggest CPOs and procurement leaders are recognizing that such technology will be a key enabler of their future success, with ‘modernizing sourcing technology’ ranking high in importance for almost two-thirds of respondents (see Chart 1).


With many considerations now at loggerheads in sourcing decision-making, striking a balance between competing criteria to make optimal award decisions won’t get any easier. But as more and more teams are discovering, some of the pressure can be alleviated with the support of a capable e-sourcing solution, such as Keelvar Sourcing Optimizer

Sourcing optimization technology allows sourcing teams to conduct complex, more robust analytics that cannot be done manually or with commonplace desktop tools like spreadsheets. While the full survey findings show that there is significant scope for more businesses to invest in modernizing tools and processes to help achieve corporate goals, those that choose to upgrade their sourcing technology to a solution that takes much of the strain out of sourcing will be taking a step in the right direction – one that can benefit your business performance, meet the requests of stakeholders, and, importantly, help your team rest easy at night.

Download your complimentary copy of the Voices of Sourcing report here, and speak to sales if you would like a demo of how our optimization and automation products can greatly support your sourcing events.

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