Tuesday 24 June 2014

BravoConnect 2014: Technology in Procurement

By Matthew Gradidge

After Marc Woods kicked off our customer conference, Jim Wetekamp led the way on the technology side, with David Smith following on with the Evolution of Procurement.

Innovation is ever advancing and increasing, placing more and more demand on the procurement function. We, as a procurement function, therefore need to make sure we are communicating well enough with the organisation. Jim pointed out that we need to be more agile, analytical, strategic, technological, better at managing change, being change agents; lots for us to be thinking about!

So with this in mind, what can procurement organisations do to tackle this?

Well, according to Jim’s stats, as an industry we are becoming better educated, getting younger, and we control more budget than ever. So surely these changes are creating an opportunity to bring in new ways of thinking that will also allow us to cope with the pressure now placed on procurement? Apparently, not so much! If the above stats are to be true, why are we apparently in a situation where resources are higher but we are still finding the delivery and outputs to be so difficult? Do you feel that procurement is getting the recognition it deserves for its efforts to meet these new demands? I, for one, think there is still a way to go on this. How do we change this perception? One school of thought is to focus on proving and showing how our successes truly contribute to and drive corporate goals. So what is holding us back?

Jim raised a very good point at this stage that with all the data and information at our fingertips, it is actually the nature of the problem that has changed. On top of this, the up-skilling and diversity of the workforce has created a new problem... we have too much data!

The solution? Jim proposed a few that may just help us:

  • Minimise day to day alerts and unnecessary information intakes; Our attention spans are getting shorter and there are more distractions these days. Tell us what we need to know and don’t create noise within the information intake. I know this one rings true to me.
  • Design the data you need around the consumer and the requirement. Only give them what they actually need. If things are going well, realistically you don’t need to give them that much information. 
  • Get a product manager, someone to own the technology: A superuser beyond admin and training who can match back to the value proposition over time. 
  • Try out new technologies. Designate the time to do this; be innovative in your adoption.
  • Don’t sit still while the rest of the market moves on. Manage adoption plans against moving targets. If the technology or requirements are advancing through the adoption then you need to move with it.

Simple then! But how many organisations actually utilise these points regularly? Do you adopt and move with the times or is it more a case of “we have processes that have always worked since the dawn of time so why change them?”

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