The Personas of Procurement: Part 1

September 15, 2020

This is part 1 of a 2-part series

The function of procurement has evolved. Modern procurement has proven to deliver more specific, measurable value to an organization than ever before.

Years ago, procurement was viewed as a rubber stamp – the final step when tidying up paperwork. In today’s economic climate, organizations realize there are many benefits to shining a brighter light on procurement. This means taking a deeper look into the buying infrastructure and the habits people have accrued over the years.

Based on our experience, we have identified four ‘personas’ that can describe companies. These personas are similar to a Major in college – every company aligns to one. Some bleed together (Major in one, Minor in another) but everyone can identify with at least one of the four groups: The Blank Canvas, The Builder, The Optimizer and The Do-Over.

While these personas influence the procurement journey, it also highlights the overall value you may bring to your organization. How can you drive ultimate value within your role? What are the priorities of your peer group and how can you come to a common goal to take those next steps?

In this blog, I will take a deeper dive into The Blank Canvas and The Builder. (The other two will be covered in next month’s blog).

The Blank Canvas

About the Persona

The Blank Canvas is a fast growing, high grossing organization. They’ve become a notable disruptor in their own space and gathering not only recognition but a boom in revenue and expansion in every aspect of their business. They’re highly focused on the market space and customer service is a top priority.

The Blank Canvas is an organization emerging in their procurement journey. The focus is spend visibility along with tightening controls. These organizations probably rely on informal processes for payables and are simply looking for a digital infrastructure that allows them to automate. They are interested in better communication with suppliers and want to improve upon the procurement function as a whole. The good news is, if you’re sitting within this persona, your ability to drive change is extremely high because nothing has come before you to set a precedent or to reinforce old behaviors. The organization is ripe for some change and employees are looking for the right set of guidelines.

The goals of a Blank Canvas company are typically aligned to operations, standardizing the procurement function, and creating additional financial insights to gain a better ability to process at scale. These organizations tend to have a very loose structure of procurement, which helps solidify the need for a business spend management platform. The likelihood of adopting embedded BSM best practice is high and stakeholders move with the common goal of more automation with less manual labor. The ultimate goal is advanced value throughout the function.

Blank Canvas Best Practice

This group has a high rate of success because they prioritize communication amongst internal stakeholders. They develop core goals and requirements across the board with an emphasis on ROI and ensuring business functions within are included in the decision-making process. In essence, they have buy-in from the get-go.  

The collective effort provides a strong backbone for the Blank Canvas while groups share genuine interest in reaping the rewards of a successful roadmap.

The Builder

About the Persona

The Builder persona often connects with organizations that are slightly more mature with a successful platform implementation behind them. They’ve accomplished solid procurement gains with a laundry list of next steps on the horizon. Builders often desire the entire enterprise organization to be immersed in the transformation and are not shy about evangelizing their approach.

These organizations are usually a bit complex internally with thoughts around global scaling, multiple lines of business, growth through acquisitions, and a deep desire to standardize. The wins they’ve gained so far need to snowball into areas throughout the enterprise. The builder persona is trying to figure out the next thing that they can do in the shortest amount of time to build the greatest amount of value.

The goals of a Builder are to generate a meaningful roadmap and seek partners to help.  They’re highly motivated but also very cautious about the next move. Riding on the waves of accomplishment would seem to be the due course but a misstep here could break momentum and ultimately, credibility. The roadmap is crucial, and this persona is looking in every direction before embarking on any endeavor.

Builder Best Practice

Taking the approach of socializing agendas internally helps to gather allies and other internal champions along the way. This persona looks to be efficient at updating their business cases and rationale. They also find it important to consider components beyond the standard platform in the form of additional modules such as Contract Lifecycle Management or Sourcing. They are looking to enhance the user experience along with gathering more data to understand areas of immediate need. They’ve also built a strong procurement presence and structure to continue the optimization path with individuals dedicated to carrying the torch.

The Blank Canvas and Builder personas may not match your organization perfectly. It really shouldn’t because your stories are, at the end of the day, unique. However, you may find yourself nodding your head or thinking of a particular group that would identify with one of these two personas. If so, think about the types of investments you’d like to see your organization make in procurement but also within the value your role could bring.

Please check back for our next entry rounding out the remaining two personas, The Optimizer who exhibits consistent KPI attainment and the Do-Over persona who has a desire to rewrite history.

By: Mark Janz, Senior Account Director