How IT Can Support the Breakthrough of Procurement
IT professionals are under increasing pressure to leverage the cloud to modernize business processes. Their internal customers consistently demand the same kind of fast, easy experience with technology that they have in their lives as consumers. Nowhere is that more true than procurement.
Nearly everyone now has consumer experience shopping for goods and services on the internet, and the experience of shopping for what they need at work has to match that, while still capturing negotiated discounts, protecting the company from supplier-related legal and reputational risks, and providing finance with immediate visibility into who is buying what from whom.
It’s a tall order, and not only that, it’s a moving target, since the consumer buying experience continues to evolve with the rise of mobile, artificial intelligence and voice technologies. The eProcurement market is growing at 11 percent per year, for precisely this reason. CPOs see a modern eProcurement system as a requirement, not just for meeting internal customer expectations, but for moving procurement into the future.
Out with the Old
As Forrester Analyst Duncan Jones remarked in his presentation at Coupa Inspire last May, “The old model of sending in a requisition to procurement, and procurement finding the source, is going away. The good news is that the right technology can help you find a new and much more important role.”
The Forrester Wave report on eProcurement can help companies find the right technology, offering a 30-point evaluation of the twelve most significant providers.
But how does procurement find this new and much more important role?
The first step is to shift from thinking about savings and internal customers to thinking more about the company’s external customers and how they can work with suppliers to innovate to help create much better products and services for them, says Jones.
Customers today also increasingly demand products that are ethically sourced. You can’t drop cost savings and internal customer service, but innovation and corporate social responsibility are now an important part of the equation.
That means procurement has to be supported by technology that not only enables employees to buy the goods and services they need in a quick, safe and cost effective but that also serves up data and market insights for sourcing professionals to be able to do their work faster too. And, they have to abandon what Jones characterizes as their “portal-centric” view of the world, in which suppliers flock to their portal to deliver innovation along with their invoices (a world that never was anyway) for a community-centered vision that enables scalable sharing of information and many-to-many collaboration.
For example, “If I have a change in my name or my status, I want the whole community to be aware of that. I don't want to have to tell every customer separately on that portal,” says Jones.
As technology advances, there are plenty of opportunities for improvement to procurement processes, such as contextualized and personalized searches, mobile approvals, smart alerts and prescriptive recommendations.
As procurement navigates these changes, IT can support them by making sure that they have the technology they need to meet the expectations of today, and tomorrow.
To learn more about these trends and eProcurement platforms, get the The Forrester Wave Report.
Katie Corgiat is a PR and events marketing intern at Coupa. She is a senior at Saint Mary’s College of California, studying communications. She spent fall semester of her junior year studying in Rome and is now a study abroad peer mentor.