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Getting the most from procurement: Part 2 - digitally-enabling the Procurement function

Guest article by Simon Appleyard and Gerry Bolton, independent consultants in the Finance, Procurement and Shared Services sectors.

This 3-part series takes you through the stages of how to get the most out of your Procurement function. In this part, we focus on digitally-enabling Procurement.

Once the need for a more strategic Procurement function is recognised, one of the key challenges is changing behaviours so that a more strategic approach can be successfully adopted. Digital enablement can assist with this, driving self-service and automation, thereby releasing staff to focus on more value–adding initiatives. Digital enablement of the Procurement function is much more readily available than it has previously been. Proactive Procurement teams should be grabbing these opportunities to innovate and automate, both to add direct value to the organisation, and to free up resources. There are many ways that Procurement functions can digitally-enable themselves in today’s market:

Supplier self-service
Why would you do work that the supplier will gladly do for you? Suppliers want hassle-free engagement with your organisation. They want to understand if their invoice is being processed effectively and if payment is on schedule. Having to constantly contact your Procurement team for updates and answers is just as much of a pain to them as it is to you. An effective supplier portal negates much of this hassle and allows the supplier to track progress of their invoices and to respond to any alerts about any issues.

Automated supplier financing
Once again, supplier financing is not new, but innovations from the likes of Proactis can automate the process and address areas of the supply chain that traditional models simply cannot reach. These tools automate the end-to-end process, not only making it faster, but also much more dynamic – with the ability to respond to individual requirements of the supplier through a set of pre-defined rules. The supplier can access discounts at the click of a button with parameters that have been pre-defined as acceptable to your organisation.

Cloud-based Networks
These offer the ability to combine the capabilities of transaction hubs, buyer and supplier portals, and eCommerce connections into single entities - making it easier for suppliers to ensure that correct information about their goods and services is always available and interaction with buyers and vendors is handled much more effectively The embracing of digital technology is relatively easy once the structures are in place to identify and support the technologies required.

Read Part 3: Getting the most from Procurement: Part 3 – driving change in your procurement