Break Through with Procurement Operations

July 16, 2020

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery said that.  Benjamin Franklin noted, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  As a lifelong Red Sox fan, it pains me, but even Yogi Berra stated, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  Simply put, if you don’t plan ahead, you will never get to where you want to go.

In the procurement world, clients invest significant money to acquire and implement new systems and new processes, but all too often they do not develop a plan for ongoing support. Unfortunately, when continued support is not planned for, user adoption and return on investment (ROI) can never reach their full potential.

The benefits of developing a procurement operations structure can include the following:

  • Admins spend less time focusing on repetitive questions
  • Ease of training/change management adoption
  • Streamlined maintenance of the procurement system (including adding new suppliers and catalogs)
  • Ability to manage a larger sourcing pool without over-consuming the time of sourcing resources
  • Quick and reliable updates to the software (complete with an understanding of the new features and functions, as well as regression testing of current functionality)

When a client plans with purpose, they can optimize the success of their platform in several ways including:

  • Help Desk and the tactical user questions associated with new system or new process
  • Training and process for ensuring all users with all roles – both current and onboarded – are kept in the know
  • Sourcing and delivery of successful RFx proposals for the long term
  • Supplier and/or Catalog Enablement with a method to maintain current supplier population, as well as ensure new suppliers are added, vetted and enabled for users
  • Release Management and the updates and upgrades to their system to ensure all in-flight transactions are stable and that go forward is successful

In doing so, the company will have impacts that are tangible, meaningful and repeatable. This will increase user adoption and confidence, as well as improve ROI.

How do you properly plan for your procurement operations structure? Your company has three options:

  • Internal staff and/or repurposing current staff
  • Hiring new staff
  • Outsourcing

Internally staffing and/or repurposing current staff is a feasible option. Before committing to this option, however, be sure that you understand the level of training that will be needed in order to fully equip your team and set them up for success. You also need to consider the current workload of your team. Can they reallocate some of their responsibilities? Are there some pieces of their daily tasks that you can eliminate to make room for the additional responsibilities that come with the new system? You must consider this balance/shift to avoid employee burnout.

Hiring new staff also works but again, the learning curve is something to consider. When looking for new hires for procurement operations, we highly recommend looking for candidates that have experience with the platform you are using to help speed the learning process. Another thought to consider is the level of support that your team truly needs. Does the amount of work required of this person justify the cost of a new employee? Will this work fill enough of their time to merit a full-time position? If not, outsourcing may be the option for you.

Outsourcing is often the most efficient option for companies (in both time and cost). This option allows you to avoid the expense of additional full-time employees and the process of training & certifying your team (existing or newly hired). By selecting this option, you essentially equip your staff with a “safety net” of experts prepared to answer any question that they will inevitably encounter as they navigate the new system/processes. Outsourcing packages come in a variety of options and can be fit to your company’s specific needs. With these options in mind, it’s important to remember that your organization has specific operational needs that must be met in order to realize your platform’s full potential. Whether it’s one of these options or a combination of all three, by carefully planning how YOUR organization will move forward, you will prepare your team for success.

By: Kelly Carpenter, Procurement Operations Manager