Tech-driven procurement transformation offers seemingly unlimited potential for professionals, from eliminating laborious work to correcting mistakes and ensuring cost reduction. As exciting as these potential developments are, however, they will be useless without solid baseline data.
That’s the verdict of procurement leaders Craig Reed (CPO at the Agricultural Division of DowDuPont and chairman of the Institute of Supply Management board in the US) and Camille Batiste (VP of Global Procurement at Archer Daniels Midland Company). Both were speaking at a media roundtable during the ISM’s 2018 Conference in Tennessee this week.
According to Batiste, the proliferation of emerging technologies is creating a form of tunnel vision. People assume that emerging technologies will perform miracles but neglect the crucial factor that, to guarantee the system’s efficiency, the most relevant information must be gathered and input. Without this baseline data, Reed added, the tech is effectively useless. Machine learning, for example, can teach itself how to process data but must be given the relevant facts in order to begin.
Obtaining the internal company records needed to set the baseline involves breaking down walls between different departments and fostering new collaborations, especially between procurement, finance, business transformation and engineering. Top leadership and C-suite leaders also need to be in the loop, ensuring that metrics and other data are efficiently shared.
As Batiste puts it, “We tend to be humble. Procurement folks need to come forward. We need to share all the good things we’re doing.”
Support from the organisation’s leadership, she added, is “paramount.”
Reed concurred with this analysis, stating that, “There has to be some level of collective collaboration … across different functions.”
By working with the heads of different departments, procurement professionals can help to build a new, integrated understanding of the strengths and challenges in each company sector.
However, baseline constriction isn’t confined to internal data. Procurement teams must also collect information from external sources and, according to Batiste and Reed, Chief Procurement Officers are ideally positioned to carry this out. While teams like finance and engineering understandably tend to have an internal focus, CPOs and procurement professionals are continually building external relationships with vendors and suppliers. This gives them access to a huge volume of data, which in turn can be fed into emerging technologies to facilitate and enhance organisational processes.
Ed founded Odesma in 2014 with the explicit intent of creating a new kind of procurement consultancy founded entirely on cloud principles. Deploying best-of-breed subject matter experts alongside the best on demand technology to deliver rapid and effective change for customers.