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Can a focus on procurement experience unlock our latent potential?

By August 25, 2022April 9th, 2024No Comments

If you’re in the customer-facing part of the business, you’re all about experience.  There’s even an acronym for it, CX.  But for functions, like procurement, that sit in the background, tasks to improve experience aren’t high on the to do list.

Experience matters, it’s pivotal in fact.  It can determine whether stakeholders engage with procurement at all, and no engagement means missed opportunities to add value. 

Do stakeholders consider procurement a joy to work with, a function that delivers a fantastic user experience?

Probably not.

Many stakeholders remember the policies, the processes, or the technology.  Often it’s not in a positive way.

Procurement is perceived as a roadblock, a function that slows things down.

While it’s easy to think that procurement shouldn’t be too concerned about perception (surely it’s the results that matter right?), the reality is experience drives engagement.  If procurement is seen negatively, it becomes something to be avoided rather than a go-to place to add value.

The potential that procurement has to make a real, positive impact on business outcomes is lost.

We can’t avoid the fact that the experience procurement offers is important. It’s something we need to work on and prioritize. This means when we’re implementing new processes or technology that support what we do, we need to think about how it looks and feels for internal stakeholders.  Is it seamless? Does it move things forward? 

We must be interested in the experience we create for our suppliers as well.  That experience can determine whether they want to do business with us or not.  In challenging times, we don’t want experience to jeopardize our position as a customer of choice.

Of course, a great experience isn’t the only thing that we need to do.  We’ve got to deliver savings, manage risk, and ensure continuity of supply. These things are urgent and important. Period. So it’s easy to put the what before the how.  After all, what’s a great experience if we don’t deliver what we should?

We need to move beyond an OR conversation to an AND one.  Surely we can deliver outcomes AND a great procurement experience?

Thinking about experience means thinking differently. If we don’t, we work on things at the edges – a process tweak here or a bit more tech functionality there.  The underlying experience remains the same.  That’s not enough.  We have to address our experience issues head on and with courage.

Our potential to 10X our impact remains untapped.  We need to think big.

Could we move to a form of experiential procurement that is no longer a process or a function or a technology suite but to, as Kelly Barner describes it, “a distinct type of corporate experience”?

The procurement experience should pull stakeholders and suppliers towards us rather than pushing them away.

Experiential procurement can help deliver savings, manage risk, and ensure continuity of supply. It can help drive decision-making AND it can inspire and catalyze change.  All because of a focus on experience.

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