“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” – Lewis Clark
Every journey starts with a destination, and it certainly is true when considering the evolution of your procurement ecosystem and the role of digital technologies. Too often, we see clients jumping on the latest digital tools thinking they need to “do digital” instead of first formulating a clear picture of what they need to support the business (savings, speed-to-market, lower risk in their supply chain, etc.) and then considering how technology can support and enable them to meet these objectives.
Take the case of a lower-maturity procurement organization focused on tackling their spend analytics, which is a good goal, but who is focused on buying an analytics technology despite their procurement team lacking the ability to generate good insights from the spend data.
We also frequently see more mature procurement organizations that have core platforms in place for Procure to Pay (P2P) and Source-to-Contract (S2C) and are at a loss on where next to drive their digital evolution.
Others still have invested money and time into existing procurement technology platforms and, when they are not getting the adoption originally envisioned, opt to invest their time and resource to rip and replace rather than working to optimize the perfectly good tools they already have deployed.
Regardless of where you see your procurement organization’s maturity, here are three proven strategies to help you evolve your procurement ecosystem through digital transformation:
Craft a Digital Strategy and Roadmap that supports your procurement vision. Take a holistic view of your technology landscape and build a roadmap that helps to prioritize what you focus on first, second, and third. Be sure to start with your overall procurement vision and evaluate your existing capabilities. Take time to identify what is blocking your progress. Gain a new perspective by talking with your stakeholders to determine their needs and how procurement can help them reach their goals. And then create a strategic roadmap for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals to direct your actions so you are thinking about your technologies with the right priorities and in the right sequence. I authored a digital roadmap handbook that is packed with knowledge, advice, and even templates to consider using to kick-start this process.
Evaluate and Optimize Current Investments. When a technology is not getting adopted or delivering the insights or efficiencies that were originally anticipated, it can be a black eye to the procurement team and easy to understand why you may just want to start over. But that can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor that drags the organization through more change. When we remember that digital should be used to help enable a procurement transformation and is not, itself, an objective, we can take a step back and evaluate whether addressing other core issues with our procurement ecosystem can help make the digital tool more of an asset. That might mean enhancing personnel skills, improving key processes, or developing better communications. Or you may benefit from a platform tune-up that better optimizes and aligns the technology with your processes and organization.
Harness Technologies and Point Solutions to complement and extend your core procurement platforms. Once you have established a strong foundation with your core S2C and P2P platforms, there are three key areas that you can address to further extend and complement the value of these technologies. First, focus on creating an efficient procurement operating model with tools and automation that support you from strategy through execution. Tools like an automated chatbot or digital assistant at the front end can help guide stakeholders to the right buy channels, provide a project status update, and answer common queries. Thus, making it easier for your stakeholders to interact with procurement. Our ProjecTRAC product automates the end-to-end procurement portfolio management. And other automations, such as RPA, can streamline operational procurement processes. Second, leverage digital enablers to uncover more proactive and predictive insights from all of your internal procurement data (spend, supplier, contract, P2P, S2C, etc.) and external market intelligence. The WNS InsightTRAC, IntelliTRAC, and KnowledgeTRAC technologies can help in these areas. And you can read more about data maturity and leveraging your procurement data in this earlier post. And third, pursue technologies that support the complex needs of your category managers. They are the cornerstone of building a more strategic, evolved procurement ecosystem. Identifying good category managers and providing them with the training and tools they need to maximize their potential is key. And it’s important to support them through technologies, such as our CategoryTRAC product, that provides an actionable workspace to access and utilize the data and insights available to inform their decisions.
As the head of innovation for WNS Denali, I am passionate about digital transformation and innovation for companies of all sizes. You can contact me on LinkedIn to ask any questions about the above digital enablers or best practices. In the meantime, for more information on how you can best progress your digital ecosystem, download our digital roadmap.