Procurement as Architect: Think Mies, Not Some IT Geek (Part 1)

Earlier this week, I gave a presentation at Corporate United’s Synergy event in Chicago titled: How Technology Drives Spend Under Management. The topic, refrain and storyline from the talk are ones that Spend Matters readers are likely already familiar with. To wit, I focused on technology’s important role in procurement and compliance and how other functions beyond procurement, including accounts payable, treasury and internal audit/risk management, can help capture benefits from investments as well.

I took a thin slice of our overall technology coverage to focus on a range of new eProcurement, e-invoicing/invoice automation, contract management, spend analytics/budgeting/planning, sourcing and supplier management technologies that drive savings and compliance. Much of the talk was a fly-by on these topics given the time constraints and breadth of the topic. But one point I stated at the beginning of the talk stands alone – and it involves a concept procurement should take more seriously.

Specifically, I argued that the more procurement leaders act as both the architects and engineers in making external and internal supply services work together, the more successful they will be in driving spend under management. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe almost single-handedly transformed modern urban landscapes into the vertical cities they’ve become. And likewise, architects must have both a vision and understand all the pieces that must come together to deliver an outcome.

As we think about procurement software selection, it is important to remember that software applications are but a single element for investment considerations and ultimate assembly and integration with the broader business. Technology is neither an island nor a brick that can easily be paved into place. Like the steel structures Mies envisioned and built, procurement must now understand how all the pieces of a structure come together before the first parts of the foundation are put in place. Welcome to the world of procurement as architect!

Spend Matters PRO subscribers can access our research on the topic (including our new blueprint that shows how procurement can serve as a “supply services assembler and architect”):

Procurement Business Services: Part 1 – The Promise and The Problem

Procurement Business Services: Part 2 – Defining, Building, and Delivering

The Trouble With Tribbles and the Problem with Portals (Procurement Information Architecture Part 1)

Procurement Information Architecture Part 2: Portal Infrastructure

Procurement Information Architecture Part 3: Analytics

Procurement Information Architecture Part 4: Master Data Management

Procurement Information Architecture Part 5: Workflow (System of Process)

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