Why Procurement Should Care About UX

Insight into why procurement should care about UX and how sourcing can improve the user experience to build its brand and drive value.

By Hugo Britt | October 3, 2023


User Experience (UX) is all about what the user of a product – such as a webpage – experiences when interacting with that product. Companies spend millions designing and constantly refining their online UX because it’s so high-impact. A poor UX, for example, can cause a customer to abandon an online purchase at the shopping-cart stage, while an excellent UX will inspire them to come back again.

Research about UX from Zippia revealed:

  • 94% of first impressions are related to your website’s design.
  • 70% of users abandon shopping carts due to poor UX.
  • 53% of website visitors will abandon any site that takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • 52% of people say a bad mobile experience makes them lose faith in a company.
  • 50% of consumers report that a company’s website is vital to the success of the overall brand.

Internal UX

Most of the information available about UX is focused on external customers, but there’s another aspect that is rapidly growing in importance: Internal UX. This is when a company invests in UX for the benefit of its own employees to boost efficiency, increase the effectiveness of training, raise engagement and satisfaction, and even improve retention.

Historically, organizations have been slow to see the benefits of internal UX which has led to some noticeable gaps in the user experience. For example, many company travel booking portals (often managed by procurement) are incredibly clunky and ugly when compared with visually stunning consumer travel websites such as Expedia or Booking.com.

In procurement, your internal users are anyone who accesses your procurement software or portal to make a purchase. What sort of experience are you offering them? Is it easy or difficult to use? Are the aesthetics ugly or attractive? Is it optimized for mobile or do they have to use a desktop? Is it intuitive or does it require a steep learning curve?

Procurement should care about UX because how the end user assesses your procurement software and processes will ultimately impact how they view procurement's value.

Why internal UX matters in procurement

UX is important internally in procurement functions for several reasons:

Efficiency: Good internal UX design can enhance user efficiency through user-friendly tools and systems. When business users can easily navigate and use procurement software, they can focus more on their tasks and less on troubleshooting or dealing with confusing interfaces.

Maverick spend: UX can play a major role in ensuring compliance with procurement policies and processes. Clunky, confusing or frustrating procurement portals can cause people to abandon the process and seek another way around, leading to an increase in maverick spend. Similarly, this will also lead to spend data not being captured by the system.

Training and onboarding: A well-designed internal UX can simplify the training and onboarding process for new users. Intuitive interfaces and user-friendly documentation can help people quickly become proficient with the tools they need to make a purchase.

Support: How many times a week are you fielding phone calls from colleagues needing help using the procurement portal? When people can independently resolve issues or find the information they need within the portal with excellent UX, there is less strain on the procurement team.

Brand: UX is a major contributor to the perception of procurement’s internal “brand.” We’ve written before about the urgent need to raise the profile of the profession to help gain a seat at the decision-making table, improve the talent pipeline, increase procurement’s influence, and win C-level support.

Collaboration and communication: Internal communication and collaboration tools with a good UX can foster better teamwork and knowledge sharing. When employees find it easy to communicate and collaborate with procurement, they are more likely to engage and share ideas for improvement.

The benefits of procurement paying attention to the user experience include reduced maverick spend, increased efficiency, and better collaboration and communication.

Six elements of great UX

Wondering how to improve procurement’s internal UX? Concentrate on the following elements:

  1. Usability: Is the user able to accomplish their goal as soon as possible? Improve usability by getting to know your users’ needs and by simplifying every step of the process.
  1. Learnability: Will users be able to complete their tasks the first time they use the portal, or do they need instructions, training, or onboarding? Improve learnability by including a simple demo for first-time users.
  1. Effectiveness: Is the portal helping procurement hit its goals? Test the portal against these goals regularly to ensure it stays relevant and effective, especially as organizational priorities change.
  1. Efficiency: Are users able to complete their tasks with as little time and effort as possible? Are they calling the procurement team for help using the system? What can be tweaked to improve efficiency?
  1. Desirability: Do people want to use the system? Is it genuinely a better experience than, say, picking up the phone to call a supplier?
  1. Delight: How enjoyable or fun is the experience? UX professionals love to use the phrase “delighting the customer,” which may be a step too far when we’re talking about a procurement portal. But it should at least be pleasant to look at, easy to navigate, and align with the company’s overall brand (work with marketing to achieve this).

The best place to look for inspiration and best-practice for internal UX is customer-facing UX. Visit your favorite website and work out what you love about it, then apply it internally to your procurement portal.

Getting UX right has the potential to build procurement’s brand, increase compliance, reduce maverick spend, and save a huge amount of time and frustration for our end-users.

Looking to for insight as to why procurement should care about UX and want to improve the procurement process altogether? Download a free copy of our playbook:

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