For a while, things went very quiet in the mining and resources sector. With no new mines, falling commodity prices and a high Australian dollar, cost-cutting went up another notch and procurement resources were pared right back. Our own tender publishing data reflected the cyclic low.
In the first nine months of last year, we saw the volume of mining-related tenders fall more than 50% from the same period in 2015. However, this year’s numbers suggest a resurgence. They’re up dramatically, rising more than 60% from last year and 14% higher than 2015.
And this seems to be supported by mining recruitment stats, suggesting the pendulum is indeed swinging back. A recent report identified “mining consultants with tendering, project management and procurement strategy skills” as the most sought-after candidates in online recruitment marketplaces.
So, it’s clear that the resources sector is back in business and it’s buying again. And having learned the lessons of the past, it appears to be buying smarter than ever, right across the board.
We know first-hand that the resources sector sees value in shifting their procurement online, capitalising on the speed, transparency and cost-efficiencies such systems offer. But it seems that recruiters in the sector have also cottoned onto a few of the lessons well understood by procurement professionals, one of these being the concept of ‘just-in-time’.
Procurement staff know it’s inefficient to stock pre-purchased inventory, when there are systems available to buy quickly and effectively on demand.
It seems the same approach is now also being applied to the procurement of staff. More and more, we’re seeing online JIT staffing solutions. Anticipating growing demand, online services are aggregating procurement expertise, providing access to a pool of consultants ready to jump in at short notice to get projects up to speed - fast.
It’s clear that flexibility and agility show their worth in cyclical sectors. The ability to stock up when demand requires - and ease off as things cool down - helps resources companies manage the humps and hollows of their industry.
While the ‘rent rather than buy’ approach to human resources may not be such good news for procurement professionals seeking long-term security, its inherent flexibility is a natural response to the ebbs and flows of modern business practice and its application is apparent almost everywhere we look – procurement included.