Traditionally, the goal of the procurement team has been, simply, to procure—in a cost-efficient manner—what resources the business needs to operate. But procurement is changing. And, increasingly, procurement teams also need to drive new business value in their own right. They can do this the following ways:
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But to do any of this, procurement teams have to address a much more basic problem: they have to get employees to follow their processes.
To put it plainly, internal process adoption in procurement is endemically low. 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 rogue or maverick spend.
But that’s just the start. Often, employees don’t even know what your organization’s procurement processes are, let alone how to follow them. Why is this? The answer is pretty simple. It’s because traditional procurement processes tend to be complex, fragmented, and actively challenging to follow.
This is a problem for many reasons—the fact that it inhibits procurement teams from creating net new business value being just the start. Low process adoption translates directly into inefficiency, increased risk, reduced transparency, and slower time-to-value.
To increase the capacity of the procurement department as partners to the business inside your organization, procurement teams have to start here: improving the experience of working with procurement, so as to greatly increase procurement process adoption. Compliance and efficiency depend on high process adoption. And high adoption hinges on great internal process experience.
But how can procurement teams begin to do that? That’s why we created this handbook. Let’s get started:
The key to increasing process adoption in any internal service organization is optimizing the experience for requesters—or, employees on the other side—so they’ll actually want to follow your processes. To that end, your intake processes should not require change management. And they should be smart, meaning they should work for employees, and proactively resolve their problems and address their needs.
To increase the adoption of your buying experiences—be they related to tail-spend items or large strategic spend—you have to make those experiences valuable and easy. That means personalized, flexible, transparent, and capable of accommodating different working styles across teams and departments. (A simplified, user-friendly intake process for internal clients will also help procurement identify and prioritize areas where there is a real business need. That in turn helps them deliver excellent value at a competitive price, thereby further solidifying their credibility as a strategic function in the business.)
This is what makes a process experience platform such a valuable investment for procurement teams. It wraps around your existing tools—all your existing tools—so it’s as easy for engineers to make purchases or interact with the procurement team as it is for sales. And because it breaks down technology silos, such a platform also guarantees visibility. More on that later.
Another issue with low process adoption is it forces procurement teams to undertake lots of high-effort manual work in order to complete requests or otherwise effectively manage intake. Managing unstructured procurement intake processes requires logging into multiple disconnected systems, manually coordinating follow ups to resolve requests, and manually inputting lots of data. The first step to addressing this is empowering requesters to actually follow your processes—we got that. But to translate adoption into business value, you have to work smarter on the back end. That means leveraging innovative technologies, such as AI and no-code automation.
The procurement team is overburdened with incoming requests from the organization. Finding a controlled way to leverage AI within everyday procurement processes allows procurement teams to fully automate tail-spend processing, strategic sourcing, and “3 Bids and a Buy.” This helps you shorten the procurement cycle time and reduce time to respond and time to completion. More broadly, using technology in this way proves integral to creating powerful, personalized process experiences that incentivize and facilitate process adoption, as well as increase efficiency, lower risk, and reduce cost. We talk a lot about digital transformation inside organizations. Inside the procurement department, this is what it looks like.
Innovative technology like AI does procurement teams little good, however, if procurement teams are unable to manage, implement, or iterate with the technology on their own—which is where many technology initiatives historically die. Having to rely on developers to set up or make changes to the tools you invest in eliminates the point of investing in that technology. But you can work around this by ensuring what platforms you invest in come with no-code interfaces.
No-code interfaces allow procurement teams to own the creation and delivery of their automations end to end. This allows you to accelerate implementation, more rapidly iterate, and, in general, operate in a manner both more agile and adaptive.
One problem of low process adoption is it results in low visibility. When employees submit rogue invoices, or when intake is managed in an unstructured way, or when key data is spread out across a variety of apps and systems, it makes it impossible to track the status of requests—either for employees wondering what the status of their request is, or for procurement teams, who in turn have to collaborate with other departments to bring more complex requests to resolution.
Neither are procurement teams easily able to survey high-level metrics, so as to better understand what kinds of requests they’re getting or where along the buying experience employees are getting stuck, because that data isn’t centralized or accessible, either.
You can solve for this by funneling all your procurement data—from request types to request status to submitted pieces of documentation—into one centralized procurement portal. That’s something a platform like Tonkean can do, because it wraps around and connects with the various places that data often is left to collect dust.
In Tonkean, we surface all data relevant to any procurement buying experience in an easy-to-access procurement portal, where employees can find request statuses, and procurement teams can see more high-level information, including how many requests have come in, what kinds of requests they are, and any and all related documentation.
This means procurement teams will always be able to use their procurement portal to see, edit, and track everything related to every inbound request, including remaining steps in the workflow, related documentation, and supplier information pulled from other systems.
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