Growing procurement’s strategic footprint

March 29, 2018 Lindsay Kroes

The role of better sourcing software in the public sector

The strategic role of procurement is growing, and many organizations increasingly rely upon procurement to play a proactive role in delivering on organizational objectives.

However, according to the 2018 Deloitte Global CPO Study, only 26% of public sector procurement leaders believe that “procurement is highly regarded internally and seen as a key business partner contributing significant strategic value.”

To change perceptions and claim a strategic role, procurement teams need to use every tool at their disposal. Managing the organization’s biggest buying decisions via pen, paper, Excel, and basic bidding tools is holding procurement teams back from achieving this mandate.

In a recent webinar offered in partnership with Purchasing B2B, we spoke with two procurement professionals who have leveraged technology to grow the strategic impact of procurement within their organization.

From that discussion, here are three key ways that procurement software can help teams achieve better alignment with business objectives and build their reputation as a strategic business partner.

 1) Greater capacity for strategic activity.

When receiving and evaluating bids through paper or simple electronic bidding tools, administrative tasks inevitably monopolize your buyers’ time; every step of the process involves time-consuming manual tasks.

Procurement software can automate many of the repetitive tasks like distributing submissions, sending reminders, and collecting and aggregating scores — unlocking major time savings for teams.

These efficiency gains give procurement teams the capacity to undertake activities with greater strategic impact, including:

  • Working more closely with clients to understand business needs
  • Taking on projects of greater complexity
  • Investing time in developing innovative procurement strategies

The day-to-day efficiencies realized from using a procurement platform had a big impact on the procurement team’s ability to drive strategic value at University Health Network according to Lili Chen, Manager, Procurement Management, UHN.

“It freed up capacity to take on more projects, and more complex projects, and allowed us to focus on different strategic aspects of the organization.”

2) Smoother collaboration with internal stakeholders.

In order for procurement teams to realize a more strategic role in their organization, it is crucial to overcome internal clients’ resistance to the procurement process and brand themselves internally as an innovative department.

Better procurement software can help with this image by facilitating frictionless collaboration with internal clients. Cloud-based platforms make the process more convenient and seamless for evaluators, allowing them to:

  • View and score documents anywhere, anytime — an important factor given that 27% of scoring is done outside of business hours (Source: State of the RFP Study).
  • Consolidate their communication in one platform, rather than scattered over email.
  • Reach decisions more quickly, with fewer meetings.

By engaging internal clients in a streamlined, modern procurement process, procurement teams enhance their reputation as well as their ability to drive value across the organization.

This was a key goal for Tracey Ens, Director, Procurement Services, Wilfrid Laurier University, who was tasked with a mandate to improve the reputation of the procurement department.

“We were the paper pushers, and the people with the big hammer. That’s not how I wanted to run procurement at Laurier — I wanted it to be a customer-service focused department where people wanted to use us because they saw the value in what we were doing. Having a cumbersome process was not making the reputation of procurement any better. Where you can bring in technology to try to make things easier, people appreciate that and start seeing the value of what you bring to an organization.”

Ultimately, she explains, leveraging procurement technology has helped her to take on a more strategic role in the organization and get involved with a variety of projects outside the usual scope of procurement.

3) Deeper insights into your decisions and impact.

Another major challenge facing procurement leaders is the lack of visibility into their projects and performance. When information is stored across various shared drives, emails, and filing cabinets, it is nearly impossible to monitor, report on, and improve on performance metrics.

Not only does the lack of visibility present a high risk of human error, inconsistency between buyers, and incomplete audit trails, it also limits your ability to demonstrate the true value that your department delivers to the organization.

Procurement software gives procurement leaders:

  • Strict control over projects to ensure compliance
  • Complete end-to-end records of each decisions
  • Visibility into your team’s performance (including project cycle times and cost-savings)

The visibility offered by procurement software allows you to claim your seat at the strategic table with full confidence in your process and concrete insights into your team’s organization-wide impact.

View our full discussion with Lili Chen and Tracey Ens to hear more about growing your strategic impact, and how better tools can help: 

 

The Hardest Part of the Hardest Job: a panel discussion with Bonfire users

About the Author

Lindsay Kroes

Lindsay creates case studies, white papers, and other content to help modern sourcing and purchasing teams navigate the procurement technology landscape.

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