Art of Procurement: Creating Processes That Are Easy to Follow

September 20, 2023
September 20, 2023
min read
Art of Procurement: Creating Processes That Are Easy to Follow

Recently, Tonkean co-founder and CEO Sagi Eliyahu joined Phillip Ideson on the Art of Procurement “Introducing” Live Stream for a wide-ranging discussion about creating processes and buying experiences that put people first.

But why is putting people first in procurement so important, exactly? 

Watch the video and read on below to learn more.

Process adoption hinges on process experience

The rate of technological advancement in procurement has historically lagged behind other verticals, like sales and marketing. That’s changed in the past few years. But recent technological innovation hasn’t necessarily helped procurement teams solve the core challenge of getting employees to follow their processes and abide by their policies. 

“There are some processes, where employees do them only once per year, or once every six months, or whatever that may be,” says Ideson. “And every single time you go to do it, you have this foreboding of either, ‘I can’t remember how to do it, and so I’ve got to go and figure it out again,’ or ‘I’m just going to do it the quickest way for me to get it done.’” 

That’s how many employees think. The problem is, when employees ignore procurement processes, it creates rogue spend and heightens risk. 

It also cuts against the growing desire and need within procurement to be closer to the planning and execution of their organization’s larger strategic business goals

As Sagi puts it: “If the goal of the procurement team is eventually to help elevate the business and be involved as much as possible, [and] if people are not going through the processes, then what do you have policies for? What do you have all this tooling for?”

So how do you get around this? As Ideson notes, though of course procurement teams want policies in place, and want them to be followed, they don’t want to have to police people in order to get them in line. 

The answer stems from experience. Process adoption hinges fundamentally on what sort of experience your processes provide. If the experience of following procurement processes is arduous, employees will opt out. 

In short: in order to increase adoption of your procurement processes, you have to make your processes easy to follow—easier, in fact, than not following them. 

So how do you do that?

People-first process design: The Tonkean approach

To make your processes easy for people to understand and follow, they should be designed with people in mind. 

This is what Tonkean was designed to help organizations do: implement people-first thinking at scale. 

Business processes can not only be about data. That’s something most enterprise software gets wrong. As Sagi puts it, one of the biggest misconceptions in enterprise software over the past decade is that companies think that all anybody wants is a self-service model. 

But that’s not quite true; what people really want and need is resolution—to quickly and easily find solutions and answers to their problems and questions. Sometimes self-service is ideal for this, but often, people want more help. Which is essentially the opposite of self-service. Putting people first technologically means offering the requisite flexibility to meet everyone’s needs. 

That’s the logic underpinning Tonkean’s AI Front Door, along with Tonkean’s other forms of human-in-the-loop automation. These tools extend to employees the power of self-service—in the case of the AI Front Door, a centralized portal with a simple interface where people can use natural language prompts to ask for what they need. (It may be that they need an answer to an FAQ, or it may be that they aren’t sure how to kick off a procurement process and need a place to start.) The AI Front Door will also create net-new documents for employees, and proactively trawl data systems and CRMs on their behalf, all automatically. 

But Tonkean also understands when it’s clear a human professional needs to step in. In such cases, it will route end-users to the right person for help. 

That’s an example of another key tenet of creating people-first processes: providing process experiences that are personalized and context-aware. Which is something procurement teams can do using Tonkean via the power of process orchestration coupled with AI. 

"With Tonkean, you can be sure every purchase goes through the same steps you want it to,” says Eliyahu. “But that doesn’t mean the person involved in it has to have the same experience. The experience can be personalized.”

Procurement teams can adapt Tonkean to the particulars of their existing mix of technology, people, and data. Tonkean wraps around the tools and policies you already have in place. 

In practice, this means that procurement teams can use Tonkean to create processes that meet employees where they are—and that never require employees to learn how to navigate a new UI in order to follow the process in question. 

The bottom line, Eliyahu says, is that whatever technology you’re using to facilitate it, in an ideal procurement workflow, people need to get from intent to resolution as fast as possible, without friction or frustration. When you can do that for your employees, you can be sure your employees will follow your processes. The sky’s the limit when it comes to all the different kinds of operational improvements and performance initiatives you want to implement from there.

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