Social Media and Why Procurement People Should Be Adopting It (part 2)

In part 1 here we explained why procurement practitioners should be getting familiar with social media and I lamented the fact that so few delegates at the recent ProcureCon event were tweeters. At a recent event organised by Oracle and Enrich, I spoke on the topic of social media and you can get hold of a set of my slides here, along with those from the legendary Tim Hughes, Oracle’s social media guru (75,000 Twitter followers), and from Enrich, the solution provider who support Oracle procurement users with technology and services.

- Oracle ORS Presentation

- Spend Matters

- Social Media and Procurement Enrich

During my session, I suggested that there are four areas where social media can bring value to procurement functions and practitioners. Here's a brief run through those areas – more in the slide pack.

  1. Recruitment and people related

Perhaps the most obvious use, with LinkedIn the most heavily used social media platform for many business people. We’re looking with great interest at Procurious too, the new procurement focused social media platform. Checking up in potential recruits is an obvious use, but having a presence on the key social media sites to help attract good candidates is also now part of the game. And bear in mind other sites such as Glassdoor, where staff comment on what it is like to work for their organisation. See what it is like to work for your key suppliers (or competitors) from the inside! That can be interesting and illuminating.

  1. Communication ( internal)

We are seeing more internal use of business focused social media tools such as Yammer, which make it easy for work groups to communicate and collaborate. Gathering information quickly from users of a particular product or service before you talk to a supplier or start a tendering process has obvious potential. The more open nature of Twitter, Facebook might make them less suitable - but why shouldn't a CPO have a blog, or a Twitter account as a communication tool, whether it is restricted to internal colleagues of opened up more widely? Which takes us nicely into our next heading.

  1. External communication

Some early adopters in the UK public sector such as the procurement team at Norfolk County Council and the London Universities Procurement Consortium have been tweeting contract opportunities and more for a couple of years now. There's no reason why every organisation can't do the same. There are other reasons of course to communicate – keeping suppliers updated with organisational news, or even gathering rapid information back from them can be enabled with social media - running surveys for instance .

  1. Collaboration

And the next stage from communication is supplier collaboration, potentially the most exciting area for procurement to make use of social media. That’s because the desire of and need to collaborate with key suppliers is being increasingly seen as key and a competitive differentiator for many organisations. Tools such as Lean Linking (which we wrote about here) are facilitating faster supplier feedback and performance management. We are expecting to see more market entrants in this area soon, focusing on innovation as well as ongoing performance - watch this space.

So, the message is that social media is not just some passing fad. It's going to bring opportunities for us, and procurement practitioners need to seize them. And if you're of my generation, and possibly struggling with some of this, why not enlist the help of a young “digital native” to help you work out how to maximise the benefits? Having said that, my mother in law is 81 and Tweets more than I do ...

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