Five Better Things Procurement Professionals Can Do With Their Time

By Hugo Britt | July 22, 2021

“There’s so much I could achieve around here, if only I had more time…”

One of the most frequently employed arguments for eliminating manual processes is that team members will have a lot more time to devote to value-adding tasks. But what sorts of activities can procurement tackle with their newfound capacity?

In this article, we’ll explore five activities that are a much better use of procurement professionals’ time than manual or repetitive tasks.

But first…

How to free up procurement’s time

There are three key ways to reduce or eliminate manual tasks in procurement:

  1. Process improvements: This involves an end-to-end review of the sourcing cycle to identify bottlenecks, digitize paper-based processes, find efficiencies, and eliminate waste. 
  2. Automation: Procurement automation can range in sophistication from a simple algorithm to complex AI and Machine Learning tools. Automation solutions exist for nearly every part of the sourcing cycle from supplier discovery to spend analytics,  contract management to payments. 
  3. Outsourcing: Most procurement teams will have something that takes up the majority of their time. For some, it’s writing endless RFPs while others are tied up with major challenges such as tackling tail spend. Outsourcing tasks such as the management of a time-consuming spend category to a procurement consultancy or solutions provider such as a group purchasing organization will save money, effort, and especially time.

What would you do if you had more time?

What would you do with the time saved by outsourcing tail spend, automating compliance reporting, or other methods of freeing up time? A manager with a narrow focus on cost reduction might take the opportunity to cut down the procurement team size, but more value can be created (and money saved) by giving existing team members time and space to really make a difference.

Here are five tasks that procurement professionals could turn their attention to if they finally have the time to do so.

1. Focus on supplier relationships

Moving a supplier relationship beyond transactional to become a strategic partnership takes time, energy, and commitment.

Procurement professionals that invest the time in suppliers – either informally or through a formal Supplier Relationship Management program – soon reap benefits including reduced costs, minimized price volatility, increased efficiency, continuous improvement, opportunities for innovation, and (most importantly) gaining preferred customer status.

2. Build stakeholder relationships

Many of the frictions between procurement and stakeholders around the business – maverick spend, not being engaged early enough in the decision-making process, and more – can be solved with better relationships, better communication, and increased influence.

Improving stakeholder relationships may involve an education campaign to let people know who the procurement team are and how they can add value, or it might simply involve making the time to have a proper conversation with key people to discover their priorities and suggest how procurement can help.

3. Pivot to sustainable procurement

The profession has been talking about sustainable procurement for years, but when a procurement team is frantically busy, the problem is that they usually only have time to focus on the basics: cost and risk.

But with more time available, procurement can launch, nurture and embed sustainable procurement initiatives such as green procurement, social procurement, local procurement, and more.

4. Plan ahead

One of the problems with being too busy is never having enough time to rise above the day-to-day churn. Even though the team is getting the job done, nothing ever really changes or improves in the long term. Freeing up time to focus on long-term goals and targets will enable big-picture thinking and projects that truly make a difference, such as digitization.

5. Rediscover the benefits of continuous learning

Everybody preaches about the importance of continuous learning, but few of us carve out the time to make it happen. Continuous learning doesn’t necessarily require a time-heavy commitment such as attending a course; it could simply mean reading relevant news every day, or checking out what your peers are sharing on professional networks such as LinkedIn.  The emergence of micro-learning has made continuous learning more achievable than ever, even if you only have five minutes to squeeze in a video training module.

Get in touch to learn how Una can help free up your procurement team’s time to generate new types of value for your organization.


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