As a source to pay procurement consultancy who has been in business for 20 years, we have seen a lot of change in our industry and been through a number of difficult times.
We began in the days of long, customised, ‘on-premise’ procurement system implementations with large, on-site teams and have weathered the storms of the dot com bubble to the 2008 recession as well as numerous, smaller challenges. We’ve emerged from this into a sleeker, more stream-lined world where procurement projects are far more agile, cloud-based implementations with smaller teams and significant remote working.
Recent events have forced us to go a step further with 100% remote delivery. At the same time, this has highlighted organisations that have been successful in transitioning in the same way, as well as exposing those that have struggled to adapt in such short time frames.
While we don’t know how many of these changes will become the norm, we should at least think about the importance of having a procurement department and systems that can adapt quickly, function just as effectively outside the office, and how we can take some of the current 100% remote ways of working and apply them to future projects.
Procurement is more important than ever – can technology really help?
Usually, we’re the first to say that it’s not just about the technology – technology is a facilitator, not a solution. However, these aren’t usual times, and the short answer is that, yes, technology can really help.
Procurement should have a fundamental job to deliver competitive advantages to its organisation. Additionally, at the moment, there are extreme pressures to manage costs, ensure compliance, and at the same time maintain key supplier relationships, deliver value to the business and provide a means to do all this with everyone in different locations.
Having the systems and organisational flexibility to facilitate this is clearly very important. Speaking with a wide variety of businesses across a large number of industries, it is evident that there is a significant trend that those with cloud procurement solutions and other appropriate infrastructure supported by clearly defined processes and policies have found this move far more straight forward. This means they are able to spend more time speaking with the business and their suppliers to manage challenges and deliver as close to business as usual service as possible.
While technology itself does not solve all problems (strong and clear leadership has also been key), those businesses with outdated, inflexible or non-cloud supporting solutions are finding that they are more tied up in the transactional management of procurement, and far more unlikely to easily transition to a remote working model. Phrases such as “we can’t do this because…” are used much more in this latter scenario than “we’re going to do this by…” in the former.
Organisations around the globe are facing the same situation, they need to adapt in order to be able to continue their activities. Fortunately, we do not need to come up with new, clever ideas around this – the answers already exist. Cloud-based procurement solutions combined with video calling and resource sharing sites have suddenly become much more valuable to businesses.