Get Going On Your Digital Procurement Transformation

It’s time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, the grass is growing
It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going
Tom Petty


Now more than ever it’s critical to digitally transform your procurement function to be more agile, intelligent and responsive to uncertain business conditions. But determining where to start can be overwhelming. I’ve seen clients get value from testing new technologies, such as automation of an existing PR process or ML-led algorithm to clean up data. I believe this kind of experimentation is important to get your feet wet. However, building a successful digital transformation that drives sustainable value demands a more holistic and strategic approach.

First, build a strong foundation.

With all the cool new technology that’s emerging, it’s tempting to put what ails you in procurement aside and focus on one shiny new tool or application after another. That’s not advisable. Digital transformation isn’t only about incorporating new technologies and tools, it first requires mastering your procurement ecosystem.

Anyone who was involved in eProcurement and eSourcing implementations in the past several decades should have learned this lesson. Remember eAuctions? The technology was the cool part that enabled the real-time dynamic bidding to work. But without the foundation of a sound strategic sourcing process and strong sourcing and auction management skills, it failed.

In our recent WNS-CIPS global procurement survey, 100 percent of the respondents who cited excellent adoption of digital tools were also in the high-performer / well-aligned group. These high-performers were characterized by total business alignment, strong focus on talent development, a next generation operating model and process excellence; in other words, strong procurement fundamentals.


Enabling Digital Technologies

Procurement organizations that are agile and drive sustainable business value have a strong handle on the fundamentals, and leverage digital technologies to drive their transformation.


The Fundamentals of Agile Execution:

  • Procurement Domain Expertise – Just like it’s always been, it starts with the skills and capabilities of your people. The core skill sets required are shifting toward increased analytical, strategic and consultative skills, and it’s critical to focus on building your team’s digital quotient.

  • Total Business Alignment – The one indisputable indicator of procurement performance, business alignment is imperative to build a truly agile procurement function, including clear vision and governance, deep stakeholder partnering, and performance alignment.

  • Next Generation Operating Model – The future demands a new operating model that optimizes strategic and operational functions and harmonizes people-process-technologies.

  • Transformation & Operational Excellence – End-to-end value stream mapping, Lean and 6-Sigma disciplines set the foundation for digital interventions and ensures your operating model is highly agile.


Enabling Digital Technologies:

  • Core Platforms & Point Solutions – The foundation of your digital ecosystem that automates your core S2C and P2P processes. Plus, point solutions to address areas of targeted value like tail spend and market intelligence.

  • Connected Procurement Data & Analytics – All procurement insights, decision-making, processes and operations are enabled by connecting data and information with key procurement stakeholders. Taking account of all of these elements is where your digital journey should begin and will provide the basis for your digital technology roadmap.

  • Intelligent Automation, AI Technologies – A variety of technologies, analytics, algorithms and software “bots” automate error-prone human tasks and distill actionable insights from mountains of information.


With your fundamentals in full view, it’s time to build your roadmap.

Digitally enabled transformation is about creating new ways of doing things by leveraging technologies to generate additional value for the organization. It must begin with a deep alignment to the business objectives and the drive to build a connected procurement ecosystem that removes friction and enables agility.

But where to start? It really depends on your current procurement organization’s maturity in terms of things like vision, talent, processes, operating model, data and, most importantly, your company’s business objectives. Remember that this is a journey, and when building out your roadmap, it’s important to take a multi-year approach. I’ve observed that the most successful organizations start with a clear vision of where they need to be in three to five years. Then they build out a roadmap one step at a time that addresses the procurement fundamentals we discussed, while strategically maturing core platforms and analytical capabilities, and adding in new technologies that fit the organization’s needs and business.


Enabling Digital Technologies

It’s helpful to candidly assess your current maturity level and 3-5-year vision to build a truly actionable digital roadmap.


If you don’t yet have a digital strategy and multi-year roadmap, don’t panic! Most organizations are still early in their digital journeys. In fact, Procurement Leaders reported that fewer than 10 percent of companies have deployed procurement solutions based on emerging technologies. Nonetheless, it’s time to inject some urgency and establish a multi-year digital transformation roadmap that’s unique to your company’s objectives and current procurement maturity.

…time to move on, time to get going…


About the Author

Chris Eyerman
Head of Procurement Capabilities

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David Gonzalez Chris leads WNS’s Procurement Innovation Lab team to innovate and co-create leading procurement solutions and digital technologies that transform our clients procurement ecosystems. Chris has over 30 years of technical and business experience, and over 20 years collaborating with clients to improve their procurement programs and change how they leverage procurement through category management, source-to-contract and procurement transformation programs. Before joining WNS-Denali, Chris held management roles at FreeMarkets, Ariba, and Exostar. He is a real-life rocket scientist and holds an MS degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT as well as an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

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