This year, Art of Procurement offered a first-of-its-kind event, one that was completely focused on the digital outcomes procurement can drive with the right strategy, speed, and scale.
Two of our sessions, co-hosted by our headline sponsor Globality, focused on how leading global companies are putting transformative sourcing models into practice and the results that are being generated. My key take-aways are below, but if you are interested in seeing the complete sessions, access information is included at the end of this article.
Experiential Procurement Ecosystems Fuel Value & Growth
- Fulden Sener, VP Transformation & Member of Board at BT Sourced
- Keith Hausmann, Chief Revenue Officer at Globality
We’ve all come to accept that – like it or not – change is constant. Despite the endless list of digital procurement solutions claiming to solve business problems in a revolutionary way, not all deliver. Procurement needs to have high expectations of technology – both for the sake of the outcomes we deliver and for the experience it provides for stakeholders and suppliers.
What does truly cutting-edge tech look like?
As Keith Hausmann explained, modern digital solutions should be smart, meaning AI-powered and capable of handling Natural Language Processing. They must be built-for-purpose and facilitate the frictionless exchange of information between procurement teams, their stakeholders, and suppliers if adoption is to be broad and onboarding intuitive. Successfully embracing these new digital eco-systems will help change the perception of procurement from a transactional function to one that adds strategic business value.
“Problem solving is a truly human task,” he said. “I think more and more we’re seeing procurement find ways to use modern technology to run the operation and use people to solve the pressing issues of the day.”
To achieve this, procurement must empower business users to meet their own needs independently. This is not a small challenge, Fulden Sener reminded us. “People expect to have to go through formal training sessions before they can understand our very complex systems. That is the way of the past. I explain procurement’s ambitions this way: we want to make the procurement experience like an Amazon shopping experience. Does anyone need training to use Amazon? No, because the system guides you to the next step. We have to achieve the same.”
Although the buying process is important, stakeholder needs extend far beyond access to suppliers. When they can see a direct path to expanded impact through inclusion, competition, fairness, and better supplier outcomes, they are far more likely to embrace change.
If procurement doesn’t alter our expectations for technology, we don’t stand a chance of improving the experience we provide to stakeholders or elevating the outcomes we deliver to the enterprise. Today is the day to start building the future we want to lead in.
Self-Guided Buying Can Enable the Business to Scale Quickly
- Elisabeth Schlag-Lawrence, SVP, Head of Procurement Governance and Enabling at Bayer
- Mita Gupta, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Globality
Self-guided buying and self-service procurement are familiar ideas, but they are not seen in practice as often as procurement – and our distributed buyers – would like to see. Until now, the tools and incentives have not existed to help procurement overcome hesitancy based on risk, transparency, and compliance. As we learned in this session, that is no longer the case.
How should self-guided buying work?
Once again, we look to the consumer shopping experience for inspiration and expectations. Mita Gupta explained to attendees where they can look for guidance. “It’s very easy in the B2C world. Why? Because the customer has been first from the very beginning. That principle is now being embraced in the B2B world and driving a reexamination and reimagination of corporate processes.”
Procurement should learn from this and resolve to put our stakeholders first as well. When they are at the center of our processes, and we have transparency and contract compliance, the business can scale quickly without being concerned about risk.
As Elisabeth Schlag-Lawrence was quick to point out, procurement needs to always keep the big picture in mind. “We want to free up the time spent doing operational work so procurement can do more value-added work. It all goes back to the war for talent. How can we retain people and attract people if we have all this operational work?”
Self-guided buying offers a tangible ROI by increasing the efficiency of the overall sourcing and buying process. Not only can the time required for sourcing be reduced by 50-70%, but business ownership over the selection process also encourages spending with small, diverse, and sustainable suppliers.
There is a lot of strategic work that requires procurement’s unique expertise, but the flow of transactions never ends. Procurement must combine automation and stakeholder empowerment to deliver a world-class experience that enables both spend control and visibility.
For more information, you can now access all AOP Digital Outcomes sessions on demand here.