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Debunking Common Software Procurement Myths

By January 28, 2024February 12th, 2024No Comments

“There is this misconception that procurement pros are paper-pushers – that we are not strategic, or we are not business partners – and we are just there to move things from one place to another.”KR Barron, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Productiv

Few spend categories elicit as many furrowed brows and internal groans as software procurement. And, while there are no ‘easy’ categories to manage, sourcing and purchasing software, especially SaaS products, can be an especially painful experience for procurement, who are often met with skepticism, negative reactions, or even outright resistance from across the business. On top of this, procurement has to contend with other challenges like tight (often unrealistic) turnaround times, complex stakeholder networks, and an overall lack of understanding about the value procurement can bring to the software buying process.

Sometimes, it can feel like an uphill battle…

But fortunately, many of the misconceptions around procurement’s role in software purchasing are rooted in commonly-held myths that, when looked at more closely, are fairly easy to bust. This gives procurement the opportunity to confront negative perceptions head-on and use real data to dispel the untruths that are holding everyone, not just procurement, back.

In an episode based on an AOP Live Session, Philip Ideson and Kelly Barner spoke with Aubrey Zimmerman, Procurement Analyst at Lattice, and KR Barron, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Productiv. They reviewed recent research on software procurement and discussed some of the most pervasive and damaging myths around procurement’s role in software purchasing, including the steps procurement can take to cure the business of some of this negative thinking.

Listen to the Conversation 

Myth 1: When procurement gets involved, software purchasing takes longer

Many stakeholders falsely assume that involving procurement drags out the software acquisition process unnecessarily. In reality, procurement’s involvement can actually streamline and expedite the process. Educating stakeholders about the nuances of procurement’s role in expediting decision-making timelines, setting realistic expectations about turnaround times, and fostering collaboration among various teams can help to dispel this commonly-held myth.

This myth, in particular, is pervasive, says KR, but not at all in line with her firsthand experience. “I have consistently seen the benefits of a healthy time to close,” she said. “It’s procurement managing that process and delivering on stakeholder needs and expectations.”

When procurement is transparent, perceptions around speed improve, she said: “When procurement is working in the open with stakeholders and bringing people along for the ride, stakeholders and your team see that, and then they start to reap the benefits.”

Myth 2: Procurement handles everything in the purchase cycle

The misconception that procurement manages every aspect of the purchase cycle is widespread, but of course we know that numerous teams collaborate throughout the software procurement cycle. Each team has distinct requirements, expectations, and timelines, and procurement functions best when they act as a facilitator across the entire stakeholder network, aligning everyone with one cohesive process. As Aubrey put it, “Procurement really is the glue that can bring everything together when people are evaluating solutions.”

Educating stakeholders about the collaborative nature of procurement’s role in software purchasing can go a long way towards changing negative perceptions around procurement ownership and level-setting stakeholder expectations on what they can expect from procurement at each step. By being transparent and communicative about each team’s responsibilities, procurement can debunk this myth and foster a more cohesive understanding of the purchasing cycle dynamics.

Myth 3: Procurement can’t help with software strategy

Procurement has historically been pigeonholed as tactical or administrative rather than a strategic business partner that contributes to value beyond cost savings, like risk mitigation, contract negotiations, relationship management, or innovation for the business. 

“There is this misconception that procurement pros are paper pushers – that we are not strategic or we are not business partners – and we are just there to move things from one place to another,” said KR.

To dispel this myth, procurement needs to demonstrate their potential for strategic planning, market insights, and value-driven approaches. This requires procurement to educate their stakeholders on the full value they can bring. 

“I think procurement has evolved from being paper-pushers helping you get things done to really enabling them to make an informed choice about their purchase,” said Aubrey. But this comes down to the fact that “they may not be aware of all the risks that are associated with the tool that they are procuring.” 

Myth 4: Procurement knows everything about suppliers

The assumption that procurement holds all supplier knowledge is not only misguided but also detrimental to collaboration and ultimately the perception of procurement’s role in software purchasing. 

Stakeholders often think procurement “knows what every single tool does and must know every single supplier, so we must know all the right pricing and all those things that our stakeholders are asking for or things that we can get – and just do it and do it right now,” KR said.  

Having more open communication with all stakeholders and being transparent about procurement’s role in accessing and managing the supplier network is key to establishing realistic expectations and turnaround time requests. When stakeholders understand the steps procurement has to take to help source, purchase, or manage software suppliers, they’re more likely to understand timelines and the value procurement brings. 

But, procurement doesn’t have to wait to receive the recognition they deserve; it’s up to them to demonstrate that value and elevate their own role in software procurement. 

“Give stakeholders that white-glove experience and show them out of the gate the value that they are going to get from procurement,” said Aubrey. “Show them how much time they’re going to save, how they won’t have to go back and forth with all of these suppliers, and that they have somebody liaising across all the teams and tracking it all to make sure everything is being completed.” 

It’s time for procurement to flip the script

Moving beyond common myths around procurement’s role in software and SaaS purchasing can significantly improve the influence and impact procurement can have on the process and on the business as whole. 

By embracing a collaborative approach to stakeholder relationships, educating the business about procurement’s strategic value, and being more transparent around timelines and the order of operations for software purchasing, procurement can evolve from a perceived obstacle to an indispensable strategic partner, guiding the business towards informed software acquisition decisions that drive innovation and competitive advantage.

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