The global economic crisis is generally having a positive effect on how procurement is regarded within the wider business, according to an annual report by research firm Aberdeen Group.
Its survey of 220 CPOs and global procurement executives found that 63 per cent felt the recession had had a positive effect on the role of procurement.
Thirty-four per cent said the recession had given the function a more visible presence and 29 per cent suggested it was now seen as more strategic than before.
Just 5 per cent said they believed procurement was seen as more tactical, while 29 per cent said there had been no change in how it was perceived.
But despite this greater prominence, the overwhelming priority of procurement functions in the current climate remained cutting costs, the research suggested.
Ninety-one per cent of respondents put cutting costs in their top three priorities for 2009; a higher figure than at any time since the survey started a decade ago.
“The intensity focused on cost reductions is uniform across industries, enterprise size and global regions and sheds significant light on the breadth of the global recession and where we may be in the current business cycle,” the report said.
The research also suggested that such a focus could be at the expense of security of supply. While 71 per cent of CPOs thought supplier risk had increased over the past 18 months, only 47 per cent put mitigating supply risk in their top three choices and just 30 per cent had a formal supplier risk programme in place.
When asked to name their top three priorities over the next two years, however, there was less of an emphasis on reducing costs, with 45 per cent seeing enhancing the skills of those working in procurement as a priority.
But 35 per cent thought improving operating efficiency would be a key focus while 32 per cent pointed to increasing the amount of spend under management.