Liz Phelan | 10 Dec 2020
Clearly, the pandemic has had a significant impact on procurement teams. This week, at the first virtual PASA Premier Confex, we were able to hear their experiences, share war stories and learn about processes and technologies that are driving change and improving outcomes.
Accenture Procurement Lead Billie Gorman facilitated a particularly interesting conversation that provided insight into the challenges and learnings of operating through a global crisis. As Andrew Peacock, Director, Strategic Sourcing and Procurement, La Trobe University, pointed out - it’s often said that the [profession in the] antipodes lags behind the northern hemisphere due to never having to battle through a recession. Well, here it is, and all three panelists agreed that it has shifted the perception and raised the expectations of procurement in their organisations.
Procurement teams are empowered to be more creative, leverage technology, and act as advisors to their business. This year’s challenges have also increased the appetite for risk among executives, especially in the higher education sector that has been one of the worst affected. But what happens when we return to COVID Normal? It’s the question on everyone’s lips - particularly suppliers, who are eager to see a roadmap from their major buyers. Lisa Williams, Chief Procurement Officer at DJPR in Victoria, says while it’s difficult to predict, they’re focused on inclusivity in their supply chain, ensuring that DJPR suppliers represent the local community.
Technology can help procurement teams meet cost savings demands, better engage with their suppliers, and lessen the administrative burden on overworked staff. Most organisations use a number of systems in their procure to pay process, leveraging best of breed technology to source better, manage supplier compliances and contractor performance. The problem is that often these systems are siloed and unable to talk to each other.
Fortunately, integration technology has taken giant strides over the last few years. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) can require low or no code to connect systems and enable secure and seamless data flow. It’s made it easier, faster and cheaper to integrate, to improve workflows and to automate processes like creating a draft PO or contract from finalised sourcing data.
VendorPanel’s Chief Revenue Officer, Matt Clyne presented on the subject, drawing on client use cases for practical tips on starting a procurement ecosystem journey. Matt suggested to first, map and analyse your systems and processes to understand how it all hangs together - where the data flows and where the friction points are. Then you can see where your quick wins lie and where you’re best to focus. One of the benefits of an ecosystem approach is that you don’t have to solve everything at once, you can bite off the bits that will provide the best time to value and start there.
A good example of this comes from Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council. When they evaluated their procurement process, two things floated to the top: sourcing and contracts management. As a result they began building their procurement ecosystem by implementing VendorPanel and integrating Portt as their contracts solution. As they are both open API cloud-based solutions, it was achieved quickly. Now QPRC buyers can simply click a button in VendorPanel to create a draft contract in Portt.
QPRC is an example of how workflows can be created for greater efficiency, improving buyers’ experience and reducing risk. Another lens through which to view integration is data - specifically, supplier intelligence. When selecting a supplier there are often a number of things a buyer needs to consider - are they compliant? Is there any financial risk? Are they sustainable or social, local or indigenous-owned? Have we done business with this supplier before? Historically, this information has been contained in data silos - a compliance platform, directory of indigenous businesses, a finance system etc. It makes for a really poor buyer experience having to refer to all these other places to get the information they need.
Again, integration can provide an elegant solution. BGIS is a global facilities management company with thousands of sites across Australia and New Zealand. Compliance is important to them, but they’re also really motivated around social / local and indigenous procurement. Using a simple integration technique we’re bringing all of that information into the VendorPanel platform and serving it to BGIS buyers at the point of supplier discovery - so that they can see at a glance the status of their suppliers, including their proximity to the site.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can develop a procurement ecosystem to improve workflow and empower your buyers, please get in touch.
A special thanks to the PASA team for hosting such an engaging and informative event. We are looking forward to participating at PASA ProcureTech in November.
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