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Last Fall, I found myself in a room full of notable leaders, technology providers, and practitioners in our space. We were there to celebrate our hard work and reward the best and brightest procurement innovations of the past year; WNS-Denali was nominated for the “Innovations in Outsourcing” award.
As you may already know, we won the award! I was proud and thrilled to collect the award on behalf of my extraordinary team- this is about them and the dynamic, successful, and flexible way we all work together. This award also provided me with an opportunity to reflect on how WNS-Denali defines success and what makes our approach so innovative.
We won this award for a specific client project that involved the rapid development and deployment of an outsourced Procurement team in a fast-paced tech environment. In 2017, our client started with virtually no Procurement team or standardized processes. Over the next two years, we collaborated to co-create a hybrid team of in-house and WNS-Denali team members to work together to meet project requests at skyrocketing pace - without jeopardizing quality or customer experience. The award evaluated our service levels and quality for supporting a high-tech client with a very active new product research and development arm. In addition, we drove the development and implementation of Procurement best practices, including risk mitigation, cost reduction, and category planning.
Co-creation is our promise to the customer and the heart of our model at WNS-Denali. To that end, our team immediately fostered a collaborative relationship. We never let excuses or roadblocks hold us back or stop us from making positive progress. I remember quoting Thomas Edison on innovation:
"There is a better way to do it. Find it."
"And together, that’s exactly what we did."
Looking back, it’s clear to me that the key success factors of our solution were the steps we took together with the client. Here is a short summary of what that included and the steps we took:
Assess the specific organizational needs
Implement a Procurement operating model that was aligned to the needs of this specific business and stakeholder profile. (Important to note: This improved user experience, increased speed and efficiency, and created agility within the procurement organization).
Augment the existing team
Deploy the project team of onsite, onshore, and nearshore support the new process and to address the escalating volumes
Establish SLAs, process rigor, reporting and visibility to continue the improvements
Build new digital tools to enable these improvements
Reflecting on this journey made something very clear: the concept of Innovation today has become almost synonymous with the idea of digitization. As humans, we are drawn to the shiny tools, the bells and whistles. The whistles do exist in this story. In fact, we worked with a cutting-edge organization to build an implement a new set of tools that digitized their procurement process. But what really stands out to me, and what I’m most proud of, is how we ramped up an entirely new Procurement organization and worked within the client culture to make it stick. Shiny objects and bright ideas don’t drive meaningful change unless the people and processes are in place, and change management is done properly.
Our innovation began with the creative thinking and client collaboration. This innovative way of thinking and operating was most visible in our approach to change management. We were faced with driving adoption across a group of brilliant Silicon Valley innovators.
How were we going to keep their interest and get their buy in to ramp up and scale a new procurement process?
The answer to the above question ended up being an innovative approach to change management that fits their culture: We formed a rock band. Yes, a rock band. A Procurement rock band! This was the communication vehicle we used to generate interest, educate stakeholders, and maintain engagement. The genuinely innovative piece of our story came from understanding our client, collaborating on an approach and operating model, and working within their culture hand-in-hand to manage change. Who doesn’t want to be in a rock band? And if you raised your hand at that question, you can at least admit it would be cool to have a friend or family member in a rock band so you could get VIP tickets, front row seats at the concerts, and premium service any time. This is how we wanted our client to feel – like a VIP.
So, now that we had a Procurement rock and, people were curious to learn more. Leading the change management efforts and gaining more buy-in was easier and faster because we were having fun! The “all-in-one ecosystem” for Procurement delivered value for the business by taking away frustrating tasks from researchers and scientists. And, even as you reflect on your own role right now, you can probably come up with a list of tedious, tactical items that you would remove from your plate given the opportunity. So, that’s where we focused on building value and driving meaningful change first. Once improved task management and operational efficiency were singing a beautiful harmony, we prepared for a new hit – using a technology platform, RPA, and chatbot design to continue driving efficiencies in both processes and savings.
Looking back, I am most proud of the trust, partnership, and culture of innovation we dreamed up and executed on. This Procurement rock band is still going strong and continues to grow each day. To me, this story is about how you do better and smarter work. Together, we are on track to automate more than 25% of our activities in the upcoming year. The real innovation lies within our people and the collaboration – and a little bit of rock star magic.
If you have any questions about this story and how we can help your organization with innovation, connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliebrignac/
Corporate Senior Vice President, Client Services
Julie Brignac is Senior Vice President and Head of Client Services at WNS-Denali. She comes with 20+ years of multi-dimensional procurement experience gained through her varied roles including, CPO, Portfolio Executive, Management Consultant, and Entrepreneur. Prior to Denali, Julie held management positions at Accenture, CHEP, Vantage Partners, Newell Brands and Honeywell. She holds an MBA degree from the University of Maryland.