These past several months have been a trying time for all of us.
But one thing I’ve often wondered is how could we get through this if we did not have the technology available to use for both our personal and business lives. The power of computing and access to broadband internet has led us to a new era of empowerment that would not have been possible a decade ago.
Some new cost benefits from this new normal may have come from those working remotely like cost savings from eliminating commute times or the reduced need for office space. But what’s essential to operational business continuity is being able to still get your job done wherever you work.
When we consider the corporate procurement function in this equation, giving buyers the access to the proper services and technology is increasingly critical for maintaining business continuity. For instance, a recent Deloitte 2020 CPO Flash Survey notes that thirty-five percent of respondents are focusing their efforts around virtual working and making permanent shifts to work from home with increased virtual collaboration.
While it is unclear how permanent some of the changes issues by COVID-19 based on region and industry, corporate workers need the right procurement tools to get what they need. So, with more employees working remotely than ever before, how does procurement stay effective?
In some cases, being remote may not have drastically changed corporate buying habits all that much. For instance., for those with corporate or purchasing cards, buying may be business as usual. For others, it may mean ensuring remote access to e-Procurement systems. Whether at home or work, having tools that can provide the customer-driven “Amazon-like” experience regardless of the device has been a goal of most procurement organizations long before the pandemic.
But beyond the front-end experience, perhaps now more than ever, procurement needs to offer flexibility and efficiency tools that can be easily adapted to new remote business needs and complexities that arise. For instance, when a new product or service is needed? How do you handle situations that arise due to new supplier risks? What can you do to ensure inventories are properly maintained? How quickly can procurement turn around a competitively bid process or offer a new product or service?
Therefore, in an era of equal resource constraints, empowerment may also mean leveraging a managed approach as part of internal shared services or outsourced to a strategic partner for tactical buying. The benefits of this approach can include creating more effective ways to manage off-catalog requests, onboarding new suppliers, or creating a help desk to assist internal buyers or suppliers. This approach may also allow strategic procurement teams to focus more on anticipating and analyzing risks that may arise during periods of disruption such as managing against internal resource changes or managing third-party suppliers.
In this regard, adjusting to disruption as a new normal increasingly requires tools for managing supply risk. For instance, in the same Deloitte CPO Flash Survey, enhancing supply management capabilities, as well as adopting and investing in advanced technology emerged as the two primary areas of investment. In fact, twenty-seven percent of respondents noted exploring alternative/onshore suppliers and deepening supplier relationships, while a quarter noted investing in advanced technologies that can increase visibility and monitor risks. Improving performance in these areas will require more investment in supplier management tools like SIM or Supplier Performance and Risk Management.
Whichever method procurement takes, instilling a sense of empowerment to buyers while getting more visibility to make decisions will be an essential measure of success for procurement, especially in the era of COVID. To explore this notion of empowerment deeper, we will be talking with Duncan Jones of Forrester Research on October 22nd to discuss what the era of procurement empowerment means, and how organizations like Corcentric are helping procurement buyers get what they need.
Watch the webinar here.