Want to enhance the customer experience but struggling to find the time? IBM’s, Lucas Manganaro, explains why the digitisation of procurement is the gift that keeps on giving!
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If the job of a procurement department is to provide a service to the enterprise, then shouldn’t procurement folks be investing the majority of our time focusing on the experience of our business stakeholders and our supplier partners?
I think we should, but all too often what I see is the majority of procurement work hours being dedicated to spreadsheets focused on little more than unit prices, discount levels, rate cards and blocked invoices.
C’mon folks. We can do better than that!
Who has the time to be “customer-focussed”?
I’m not suggesting we ‘go nuts’ and forget about delivering bottom line savings to the corporation. I do, however, think that we will get more frequent opportunities to save, and more partnership on ways to save while driving mutual benefit, if we focus a bit more of our attention on our customers and suppliers and the experience they have when they choose to partner with us.
But who has the time?!
Certainly very few of us find ourselves burdened with surplus free time. We can’t add hours to the day but we can subtract time draining tasks that crowd out the good stuff.
Procurement practitioners require access to vast amounts of information to effectively manage spend. The data is often spread across a myriad disparate sources and often times the process of gathering and reviewing that information leaves little time for focusing on the experience of suppliers and stakeholders.
These include supply contracts, purchase order data, PCard and T&E card spend, invoice data, supplier performance data, supplier financial solvency data, catalogs, supplier mergers / divestitures / bankruptcies / name changes, internal part numbers, supplier part numbers, volume discounts, insurance certificate renewals etc. etc.
If you’re like me, you were probably some combination of bored, frustrated, and defeated by the end of that list and that list could have easily filled the rest of a page.
Why is digitisation so important?
There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ to consider. This is why digitisation is so very important for procurement. Getting the data off paper and into formats where it is visible and reachable is extremely important. This makes it much easier to collect, validate, coordinate, enrich and connect that data so that ‘whole pictures’ of the procurement process can start to come into focus. There is an abundance of amazing tools available to help streamline and automate procurement processes and the capabilities are growing by leaps.
Digitising the data and process is one of the most important keys to unlocking the value that these capabilities will deliver, and procurement organisations that get this foundational element right will have a substantial head start on delivering real value to their organisations.
Ask yourself a few basic questions on supplier information, sourcing process, or supply market dynamics. If you find that the answers to the questions require multiple system searches or spreadsheets it’s probably time to start a conversation about taking your procurement function fully digital. The investments you make in getting this right will pay you back with (among many other things) more time to spend building lasting relationships and great experiences for your stakeholders and suppliers. And those experiences will keep them coming back.
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