Think about your business and the current economic situation. How would you answer this question: “Are most concerned about providing an immediate response or building a roadmap for recovery?”

This is the kick-off question we asked in our webinar with Xeeva last month on “Navigating Procurement: Creating Value in Economic Uncertainty.”  Based on the interactive poll, 38 percent of the attendees said they were focused on preparing an immediate response to support the business. The majority (62 percent) were looking to building a roadmap for economic recovery.

The results were interesting and perhaps different than what many of the panelists on the webinar expected. For example, there was a general thought that many more procurement professionals would be focused on an immediate response, but it’s thrilling to see that procurement is thinking strategically about how we can build on our progress towards becoming trusted business partners.

Pre-Covid-19, many of our clients were working on a long-term transformation of operating models. With the outbreak of the pandemic, the focus has quickly shifted. Many procurement practitioners quickly went into a ‘reactive mode’. After the first two weeks, they realized that even in the new environment, Procurement could keep the business moving forward to achieve its objectives. Early on, an optimistic view of Procurement unfolded clearly - to go beyond this crisis and develop new category strategies for supplier innovation. Regardless of which path you take – immediate response or recovery plan – this is your time to shine as a procurement practitioner.

This is Procurement’s Time to Shine: 3 Key Pillars to Get It Right

Right now, there is a big shift happening in how people are getting their work done. Below are three factors that will help your Procurement team build a strong foundation for this forced transformation brought about by Covid19:

  1. Actionable insights - embrace data and analytics
  2. Effective execution - set the tone now for your role in the future
  3. Relationship management - be transparent and use fact-based discussions for internal and external relationships  

Next, you should consider your purpose. You should look at the following dimensions when defining and shaping your purpose:

  1. Creating shared value relationships
  2. Projecting and enhancing the brand
  3. Expediting growth and innovation
  4. Reducing costs and improving margins
  5. Assuring supply and ensuring certainty

These five points of purpose will set the framework for your strategy. And if your strategy is not linked to any of them, you will need to question why you are doing that work.  Your focus will shift over time as your maturity and efficiency evolve - within processes, categories, business units - and that’s perfectly fine. However, the best thing you can do right now is to ask yourself, “What really is my goal and the ultimate goal of the business I support?”

So often, procurement organizations focused on goals that are not shared by the business. As a result, they are left out of the discussion when it is time to develop new strategies.  This is important - your goals must be aligned with your business and the actions you undertake must be aligned to those goals.  For example, if your goal is to ensure your sources of supply, now is not the time to squeeze the most out of your critical suppliers.  This seems logical, but you will be amazed at how many procurement organizations focus only on their goals even if they are out of alignment with the rest of the business.

The Move from Tactical to Strategic Still Matters

More clients are sharing that they need rapid savings. Unfortunately, many of them still have an inefficient operating model that does not allow them to effectively go after these rapid savings projects. The work is highly tactical. In most cases, they have their most capable people spending 80 percent of their time on operational activities. We end up focusing on what’s urgent, not what’s important. Even in our current situation (and perhaps even more so), separating tactical from strategic work, and aligning with your organization’s capabilities is critical to avoid the trap of ‘everyone doing everything all the time’.

Undoubtedly, now is our time. We have the business interested in our work and the opportunity to demonstrate our value. This calls for a focus on:

  • Being clear on what people are doing and why – your points of purpose
  • Providing visibility into data that influences business decisions
  • Ensuring the right people can focus on strategic work with suppliers and important stakeholders that will be critical as we move forward
  • Evaluating your procurement ecosystem –tools, processes, and organization – for gaps and opportunities – and asking yourself what is not working and where do you need support

We cannot all do everything, so you need to prioritize. Think back to your points of purpose – and formulate a strategy that allows you to execute near-term with a view towards recovery. 

Each of the panelists ended with some final words of hope, which included:

  • Embrace your data – do not fear your data. Unlock what it says and see what happens next
  • This is our time – this is where we can set the tone for our role going forward. We must step up and make it happen
  • Remember to be human - empathy and transparency will help you up-level your relationships both internally and externally

To learn more about how WNS-Denali is helping our clients recover from Covid19, explore our rapid savings program.



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