Pain Points in Procurement Series
Why Professionals are Always Time-Poor in Procurement
Stop struggling with being time-poor in procurement and pave the way for bigger projects, more strategic thinking, and better innovation.
By Hugo Britt | April 25, 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.
Why does there never seem to be enough time in procurement? While it’s easy to dismiss busy workloads as just part of the job, the consequences of not being able to manage one’s time are very real. Poor time management – or lack of time altogether – can lead to missed deadlines, reduced quality of work, and overworked employees who become disengaged or suffer from burnout.
Struggling to find time in procurement also harms the ability to drive continuous improvement. Constantly playing catch-up with the day-to-day workload leaves little time for bigger projects, strategic thinking, or innovation.
Why are Sourcing Heroes so often time-poor in procurement?
Here are some of the factors that cause time constraints in procurement:
The globalization of markets and the expansion of the supply chain bring cost benefits, but have also led to an increase in the volume and complexity of procurement activities. Procurement professionals must manage more contracts, more suppliers, and more transactions, which can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
Struggling to find time in procurement harms the ability to drive continuous improvement. Constantly playing catch-up means larger projects and other strategic initiatives get left behind.
Pressure to reduce costs
Procurement functions are often under pressure to reduce costs to increase profitability. While this should always be a core concern, an over-focus on cost can result in a significant portion of the week being spent on negotiating with suppliers, leaving little time for other activities.
Compliance and risk management
Procurement professionals also need to ensure that their organization is compliant with regulations and that they manage risks effectively. This involves vetting suppliers, conducting due diligence, and ensuring that all contracts are compliant with relevant regulations. These activities can be time-consuming and require a great deal of attention to detail.
If procurement’s processes are inefficient, such as manual paperwork, approvals, or outdated technology, the team may spend more time on administrative tasks and less time on proactive planning.
For many, a significant chunk of time is taken up by answering stakeholder questions about how the procurement process works, the status of their purchase request, or why they have been blocked from ordering something.
This can be solved with end-user self-service portals, step-by-step guides to using the procurement software, and helpful resources such as an FAQ page. Advanced procurement teams may choose to explore the potential for a procurement chatbot with the ability to answer common questions such as status requests.
Poor planning where procurement has not been involved early enough, a lack of communication, sudden supplier disruptions or unforeseen events such as natural disasters can lead to rushed decisions and reactive work that leaves no time for long-term planning.
Less busy means better results
Avoid having a culture where only a frantically busy team is seen as productive. There are huge benefits on offer if you can manage to “ban busy” in your procurement function, including reduced stress and more time to prioritize and complete tasks without feeling rushed. More time means you can focus on the quality of work rather than rushing to complete tasks.
One of the biggest winners is creativity, because having more time and mental space can help you think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems. Finally, having the time to complete your work effectively will increase job satisfaction, boosting retention and engagement.
One of the greatest benefits to "banning busy" within your procurement function is creativity. The more time and mental space procurement can dedicate to thinking outside the box will drum up more innovation and efficiencies.
Two solutions to claw back time in procurement
There are two highly effective ways to end the cycle of always being behind the procurement workload.
Technology and automation can be used to boost procurement efficiency. Solutions include e-procurement platforms that provide a centralized system for managing procurement processes, and AI-enabled sourcing that automates the supplier selection process. Robotic process automation (RPA) is designed to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
There are also advanced analytics tools available that can analyze spend data and produce valuable reports at the touch of a button.
Secondly, joining a group purchasing organization (GPO) will help you save money, time, and effort. Una members gain instant access to over 5,000 pre-negotiated contracts with some of the best supplier partners in the country. This allows members to save valuable time by bypassing lengthy and complex RFP processes, supplier negotiations, and contract development.
Our goal is to simplify procurement and empower organizations through increased buying power, comprehensive savings solutions, and superior service.
Utilize our vast supplier portfolio and save more with Una. Getting started is easy. Contact us to learn more.