Procurement 101: How To Improve Procurement Process Adoption With ProcurementWorks

Tonkean
Tonkean
August 25, 2023
March 14, 2023
8
min read
Procurement 101: How To Improve Procurement Process Adoption With ProcurementWorks

What is the goal of procurement?

Traditionally, the goal of the procurement team has been to save money for the business and to ensure what-all investments the organization makes match up—that you receive what you order, and that you order what finance paid for. 

But that’s just the start. Procurement can and should serve to increase efficiency, lower risk, and create new business value as an internal partner. ProcurementWorks is a product suite from Tonkean designed to help procurement teams do that. It encompasses the entirety of the P2P lifecycle and serves to revolutionize the way Procurement operations are conducted—specifically by optimizing the experience for requesters, so they’ll actually follow your processes. Using no-code automation and empowered by generative AI, ProcurementWorks enables procurement teams to confidently mitigate compliance concerns, reduce risk, and increase operational efficiency by creating personalized, intelligent buying experiences—from intake to triage to resolution. 

(Read our press release about the launch of ProcurementWorks here.)

It’s a powerful tool. But let’s back up. Why do procurement teams need something like this in the first place? What challenges are they unequipped to solve by the status quo? What does process experience even have to do with procurement in the first place? 

In this post, we cover all those questions and more. Let’s dive in.

The procurement problem

However complicated most people think the procurement process is, they’re underestimating it. Consider the following elements procurement teams have to account for:

  • Supply chain. The supply chain has to be coordinated effectively or else everything falls apart. Accounting for the sheer number of moving parts in the supply chain is difficult enough. 
  • Diversity of requests. The diversity of requests is another challenge entirely—the processes around buying a bunch of pencils versus buying laptops versus buying real estate are remarkably dissimilar. 
  • Silos. And there are always variables to contend with, like multiple legacy databases and layers of approvals from disparate stakeholders. 

But there are broader challenges facing procurement teams: They need to control spend, avoid compliance issues and costly mistakes, and improve efficiency. And they can’t burn all their time fielding ad hoc requests and tussling with disparate, un-auditable systems. 

Of course, if people would simply follow established policies and procedures (if those have been defined in the first place), those problems would go away. Unfortunately, often nobody even knows what the organization’s procurement processes are, let alone how to follow them. And even if the processes are well-defined, often the experience for the requester is so onerous that they’ll do anything they can to work around and outside of them. By some estimates, a full 50-80% of invoices stem from rogue spend.

The result is a radical lack of transparency into the status of requests and critical metrics like tail-spend and rogue or maverick spend. 

Fix your processes

The truth is that most procurement processes suck. To solve the aforementioned problems, you need to make it so that following your processes is easier for people than circumventing them.  

The result will be improved speed and transparency, as well as greater control over spending. You’ll avoid compliance issues and costly mistakes, too. 

To get there, you need higher adoption of your processes—which you can achieve by optimizing the user experience.

But without the right technology, that can be difficult. 

Consider the challenges inherent in facilitating different types of spend.

Tail spend, which accounts for around 20% of overall procurement spending, is by definition pretty unmanaged, and that makes it difficult to control, track, and audit. Typically, tail spend items involve requests under a certain amount of money and risk level—desk chairs, a coffee machine for the office, an additional Salesforce license, and so on.

But that makes tail spend rife with opportunities for rogue spending and even potentially fraudulent spending. It’s a unique problem because each bit of tail spend is small, yet together they add up to a sizable chunk of your overall spend. If you could take any 20% chunk of your spending and reduce it, you would; it’s just that tail spend is too messy.

When it comes to more strategic buying experiences, there’s a different set of seemingly intractable problems. Fortunately, because this type of spend typically involves large amounts of money or higher risk, they get the attention of multiple stakeholders. But the downside is that by having so many people involved, typically across multiple teams, the procurement process can quickly bog down.

Procurement professionals may find themselves endlessly chasing down this or that person for approval, gathering signatures and documents, and manually updating databases and spreadsheets (often in disparate systems). 

In all of these cases, the problems boil down to poor user experience. 

For example, a manager who needs a software license for a new hire probably isn’t going to know how to use an established procurement process; they’re going to either ask around until they get a person to help them do it, or they’ll throw up their hands in frustration and work outside the system to get the license. 

A gridlocked buying experience happens so easily because no one but Procurement likely knows which steps are needed in the first place. Requesters aren’t sure what to do, and stakeholders in the process won’t do anything until they’re asked (possibly more than once, because people don’t always follow through the first time they’re asked, or they forget and need to be reminded). 

Fundamentally, those types of problems fall into the category of intake, triage, and resolution, or ITR. ITR tasks and processes include incoming requests, routing requests to the right person, pulling necessary documents, getting approvals and signatures, and making sure tasks are complete.

If you handle your ITR tasks and processes well, the user experience will be one that people actually follow. That will create higher adoption of your processes, which solves the problems around transparency, tracking, risk, and compliance. 

This is what Tonkean’s ProcurementWorks is designed for.   

Tonkean solves procurement woes

Tonkean monitors your existing tools, gives you the ability to create automated workflows, and provides dashboards for visibility and tracking. It enables you to build a guided buying experience that is personalized for each requester and intelligently automates the intake, triage, and coordination of every request, from tail-spend to strategic sourcing.

You can’t just throw another piece of technology at these problems. A shiny new procurement application that you force everyone to use isn’t going to solve anything. That’s because the problem was never the technology per se, but the user experience. 

It’s an under-appreciated phenomenon that people simply follow the path of least resistance. Even if they try to use some new application, they’ll inevitably end up asking someone for something, or doing something, outside of that app. That’s because people work in multiple apps, especially for communicating; the moment they have a question that isn’t immediately and obviously solved by their software, they’re going to bug someone on Slack or email. And then you’ve lost track of the process, and your slick software isn’t solving the original problem of people working outside the system.

Tonkean doesn’t replace all your other apps; it wraps around them all. Tonkean just enables you to get the most out of what you already have. 

You don’t have to blow up your tech stack. You don’t have to worry about the costs of enduring software contracts. You don’t need your team or other teams in your organization to change the applications and systems they prefer to use. And creating the automations, processes, workflows, and tracking you need requires no code, so you don’t have to wait for or rely on your IT or dev teams to make what you need. 

In fact, most stakeholders don’t have to learn to use Tonkean at all. They may not even notice it’s there, because Tonkean seamlessly connects with the apps they use; all they know is that they automatically get the right form or document or question at the right time. 

How ProcurementWorks works

Here’s a specific example of how you can use Tonkean to improve your procurement processes.

Intake, triage, and resolution

With Tonkean’s ITR capabilities, you can exceed customer expectations and streamline procurement operations, making them more organized, transparent, and efficient. Using advanced technology, Tonkean intelligently triages incoming requests by pulling information from connected systems and dynamically assigning the work. 

Tonkean provides seamless coordination across different work streams and systems, even if the work is being carried out by another team using a different tool. It makes for a great experience for requesters and provides transparency and visibility into your procurement operations. You don’t have to use custom code, and there’s no need for additional training for teams.

In Slack, for example, you can kick off a software purchase in a procurement intake channel. Simply type “purchase please” into Slack, and because Tonkean is “listening” to the channel, it will automatically respond with a Procurement Request Form button. 

The requestor clicks the button to start the process. They’ll be guided through filling out the correct form. Then, in the Tonkean dashboard, you’ll be able to see, edit, and track everything related to the request, such as:

  • Remaining steps in the workflow
  • Related documentation 
  • Supplier information pulled from other systems
  • Review status

Notably, the requestor will never have to visit the dashboard; the forms they need, the signatures they need, and so on will come to them automatically in the apps they’re already using, like Slack and DocuSign.

Procurement pros can design the whole process in Tonkean’s no-code Solution Builder using Action Blocks, which are premade (and customizable) blocks of code. 

Improve your process experience

At the end of the day, what procurement teams need in order to effectively address their most pressing problems is the ability to create powerful, personalized process experiences that incentivize and facilitate process adoption, as well as increase efficiency, lower risk, and reduce cost. 

Compliance and efficiency depend on high process adoption. And high adoption hinges on a great internal process experience. 

Unlock Procurement Excellence-Request a Demo Now!

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