More procurement managers keen to discover if the ‘grass is greener’

The news that increasing numbers of manufacturers are looking to change their supply chain will probably not have come as much of a surprise.

The finding, from Accountancy Network MHA, discovered that the number of manufacturers not planning to change their supply chains sharply dropped from 65% in 2020 to 45% in 2021.

It is no doubt tempting for procurement managers, amidst all the disruption of the past 15 months, to wonder whether there is a supplier that has a magic wand and can overcome the current ‘perfect storm’ of factors that are playing havoc with supply.

As the old phrase goes, the grass is not always greener on the other side, however. Few suppliers will claim to be totally immune to the disruption, though some may reasonably state that they are less troubled by the disruption than others…


Anecdotal reports suggest that even the very large suppliers are operating with less inventory than they would like. However - like having too many good footballers to fit into your starting 11 – that is a nice problem to have, and burning through inventory won’t be giving those larger suppliers as many sleepless nights as the smaller ones.

It’s times like these that customer relationships matter even more than usual. There will be a degree of loyalty and understanding among purchasers over how disrupted the supply chain currently is.

One of the big questions facing the industry is whether the shift to digital purchasing methods will erode the kind of relationships where customers are willing to give favoured suppliers more leeway in tough times, rather than chasing the cheapest in-stock products elsewhere and discovering if the grass truly is greener on the other side. When more orders are placed over emails and electronic methods, rather than over the phone, customer relationships might just become trickier to maintain. It is just one of those $64,000 questions that the industry will have to answer at some point in the future – the kind of question that will remain relevant when the pandemic has loosened its hold on the world.

Jonathon Harker