Pain Points in Procurement Series

Improving Time-to-Source in Procurement

Improving time-to-source in procurement can lead to greater customer satisfaction, streamlined sourcing processes, and increased cost savings.

By Hugo Britt | March 23, 2023


Welcome to Una’s Pain Points in Procurement series. Each week, the Una team will explore one of ten common pain points impacting procurement today, and put forth actionable solutions to each of these challenges.

There’s a brilliant scene in the Disney film Zootopia where police bunny Judy Hopps is in a tearing hurry to “run a plate” in her quest to solve a crime. She rushes into the DMV only to find – to her horror – that the place is entirely staffed by sloths who will be unbearably slow in processing her request.  

From a stakeholder’s perspective, procurement can seem sloth-like in the time it takes to complete what appears to be a simple purchase request. Slow time-to-source can lead to frustrated stakeholders, impacted business objectives, and can contribute to procurement’s reputation for inflexibility and bureaucratic behavior.

Why is procurement slow?

Some of the reasons procurement takes a long time include:
  • Complexity: The procurement process can be complex, involving many different steps and stakeholders, from identifying suppliers to negotiating contracts.
  • Regulation: Ensuring regulatory compliance can slow down procurement processes, particularly in the public sector and highly regulated industries.
  • Lack of standardization: If procurement processes and procedures are not standardized across an organization, this can lead to delays and confusion. Procurement teams may have to spend extra time clarifying requirements or navigating different processes across different departments or business units.
  • Limited resources: If procurement teams are understaffed or have limited resources, this can slow down the procurement process. Procurement teams may have to prioritize tasks or take on additional responsibilities, causes further delays.
  • Inefficient supplier management: If supplier management processes are inefficient or not well-coordinated, this can create avoidable delays. For example, if there are delays in supplier onboarding or if there are issues with supplier performance, this can impact the overall procurement timeline.
  • Stakeholder involvement: Stakeholder involvement is important in the procurement process, but it can also lead to delays. For example, stakeholders may have competing priorities or may require additional time to review and approve procurement decisions.
Speedier procurement processes can help organizations meet customer demands faster and reduce the time and resources required to complete procurement tasks, leading to cost savings. Moving faster can also improve customer satisfaction by improving delivery times, and boost agility by helping the organization respond fast to changing market conditions.

Improving time-to-source in procurement leads to a boost in agility, streamlined sourcing processes, greater customer satisfaction, and increased cost savings.

How to improve time-to-source in procurement

But how can we speed up time-to-source? The golden rule is to work smarter, not harder.

Some strategies include:

Streamlining the procurement process

Review the procurement process to identify any inefficiencies or bottlenecks that are causing delays. Streamline the process by removing unnecessary steps, simplifying procedures, and setting clear timelines.

Read: How to Make Procurement More Efficient

Leveraging technology

Leveraging technology to automate certain aspects of the procurement process, such as supplier identification, request for proposal (RFP) creation, and bid evaluation. This can significantly reduce the time required to complete these tasks.

Explore: Tech Vendors & IT Spend Solutions

Maintaining a centralized database

Maintain a centralized database of suppliers and their capabilities. This can help procurement quickly identify and qualify potential suppliers, reducing the time required to source new suppliers.

Discover: How to Use Centralized Purchasing to Obtain Volume Discounts

Simplifying supplier onboarding

Identifying, assessing, qualifying, and onboarding a prospective vendor can draw out a procurement process. Simplifying these steps will drive leaner, faster procurement, not to mention make life easier for your suppliers. This can be achieved by establishing a universal set of guidelines as well as standardizing your supplier performance and monitoring processes.

Master: Supplier Experience Management

Collaborating with stakeholders

Work closely with stakeholders to understand their requirements and priorities. This can help procurement focus on sourcing the right products and services from the right suppliers, reducing the time spent on unnecessary meetings and searches. At the same time, educating stakeholders on how procurement operates can help speed up future conversations and transactions.

Read: How to Communicate the Value of Procurement to the C-Suite

Leveraging existing contracts

If there are existing contracts with suppliers that meet the organization’s needs, procurement can leverage these contracts to expedite the procurement process.

Explore: Una’s Supplier and Contract Portfolio

Source locally

Sourcing products and services locally won’t always be possible but it’s certainly worth looking into. Sourcing locally reduces transportation time, costs, supports the local economy, and promotes sustainability.

Understand: Why Local Sourcing Makes Sense After COVID-19

Partner with a group purchasing organization

Another way to improve time-to-source is by engaging the help of a group purchasing organization, or GPO. Here at Una, we’re proud of our speed-to-savings approach. We connect our members to ready-to-go supplier contracts that align with your stakeholders’ goals in weeks, not months.

Contact Una to learn more about improving time-to-source in procurement to increase cost savings, meet consumer demand, and streamline your procurement processes.

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