Emerging digital technology is rapidly changing the function of procurement. In light of this, strategic sourcing expert Eleanor Matthews has offered small business procurement teams four tips for elevating the value they can bring to their organisation.
Matthews’ paper draws from recent Gartner research which forecasted that, by 2021, 55% of technology procurement professionals will need a repertoire of business, digital and analytical knowledge in addition to their skill set. Drawing from this, Matthews advises that the first step for teams in small firms is to brush up on their sales acumen and help their company to stand out from the crowd.
Good procurement teams, she emphasises, know that marketing procurement is part of their role and will find the right perspective to present their firm as a desirable customer. Central to this is the need for clarity over what niche the company occupies and then working to access new markets and establish new propositions. All this must be done while practising the best supply relationship management to showcase the talents of their suppliers. Following these simple steps should enable procurement teams to “punch above their weight” and attract supplier attention.
Next, she advocates the “ruthless” automation of admin. Small business may find ERP solutions beyond their reach, but they should opt for more affordable (and highly effective) cloud solutions and inexpensive Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools. These systems will help smaller teams to perform routine, rules-based tasks that would otherwise consume much precious time. Instead, this time and energy could be redirected to opportunity assessment, tail spend management, supply relationship management and other areas where the human touch is essential.
Thirdly, Matthews advocates collaboration: joining forces with other small firms either locally or in the same market to secure the best deals on specific categories like packaging or utilities, or forming buyers’ clubs to consolidate demand for procuring goods and services.
Finally, procurement teams should work to build and then strategically manage long-term relationships to deliver the mutual benefit of maximum value for both parties. Oiling these relationships with acts of generosity – sometimes as simple as providing references to support future sales – can bring great returns in mutually reciprocal dividends.
Steve has over 28 years of success as CPO, MD and Procurement BPO leader in a range of industries. Steve is COO at Odesma, responsible for Odesma’s delivery capability & infrastructure.