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Productivity in Procurement

Productivity in Procurement

Wednesday 29th November 2017
Mandy Chippindale

"Until we manage time, we manage nothing else" ~ Peter Drucker

As we move into the technological era of procurement, the most innovative amongst us are looking for new ways to maximise productivity. Carrying out activities because it's "what we've always done" and "standard process" just won't cut it with our savvy time saving and efficient procurement contemporaries and demanding stakeholders.
Below are just a few of the quick-wins for businesses looking to improve their productivity in procurement:

Improve communication:

It sounds a simple one but nine out of ten times when beginning skills training within organisations, I observe that the basics are not in place to ensure the communication routes are clear, concise and consistent. If all members of the team are singing from the same song sheet, it certainly makes the managing the procurement process easier.
Finding time to communicate with your team is also critical; collaborative communication and problem-solving will ensure efficient communication channels between employees and management. Empowering employees with trust and respect and valuing opinions makes improving productivity more effective as this will breed ownership and accountability and better still innovation.

Minimising the sourcing process:

Whatever your sourcing process is, tailoring it based on the nature of the project and category spend can save precious time and money. The crucial point here is to find a happy medium between a one-stop purchase and a ninety-nine step sourcing process. Consider having a three-stage sourcing category system, categorised by nature of the commodity and or spend, add content to these standards, - Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) - educate your team and most importantly, roll it out! This will soon become second nature. Nobody wants to follow a long-drawn outsourcing process; this will save hours of frustration, tick boxing and crossing bureaucratic red tape - when all we really want to do is order is a pack of business cards.

Cut down on your savings tracking systems:

This is a tricky one as it's more often than not something close to every procurement professional's heart. How can I measure my performance in monetary terms, if I don't track savings? Well, it's true what they say, and that is money talks...utilise your finance department to make a single uniformed tracking system (we don't all have state of the art packaged systems if you do - great, you're light years ahead of the rest of us. One of the biggest time constraints in any Procurement department is the tracking of performance measurement, for individuals, and for categories and if you have 4 million spreadsheets or even one spreadsheet tracking this, you're more than likely duplicating work. Tracking realised savings v's pursuing saving opportunities or forecasted savings. Both departments have invested interest in this information. Work smart and share the load.

Move with the technological times:

My background in delivering CIPS training across public and private sectors and having thirty years' experience in construction and manufacturing has qualified me to make the statement. I know there is a huge variation in Procurement environments, some have leading systems and technologies while some have very basic, if any electronic systems in place. I would urge all procurement functions to bite the bullet and invest. Outsourcing has led to a fear amongst Procurement professionals that many of the lower-skilled procurement roles will become redundant, this isn't an irrational fear, this threat is very real. Through implementing electronic systems and up skilling procurement staff. Leading e-procurement technologies will help the entire business in productivity, they just need to be utilised consistently.