COVID continues: Expect limited travel, more need for e-auctions and remote supplier relationship management

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

The coronavirus crisis has reshaped the business world’s thinking about working remotely. “Work from home” can be done, but it needs to work better — especially because the pandemic continues to curtail the types of interactions that help grow a business: international travel, face-to-face meetings to land new clients, visiting existing suppliers or moving supply chains to a new country.

With borders closed and more infections and lockdowns expected in the fall and winter, emergency plans that worked in the spring need to be bolstered with more robust digital transformation plans that add functionality like e-auctions and supplier relationship management (SRM).

Most of 2020 has seen people working from home, and businesses have adjusted. But they need to do more than survive. They need to add leads and have a solid plan for the rest of the year and into 2021.

And companies won’t be landing a lot of international business via Zoom. They’ll need to reach out to businesses by using e-auction tools that can properly test the market for the best fits and the best deals. And having SRM capability helps with supply chain resiliency by letting a company collaborate more efficiently with suppliers on things like changes to orders, longer lead times, and plans for innovation and new products.

Before the Crisis, a Worldwide Shift

The coronavirus disruption has opened the eyes of many company leaders to the importance of procurement technology, and many of them report that the crisis has made the business case for updating technology and has sped up plans to approve an upgrade and digitally transform businesses.

In addition to tackling the COVID-19 disruptions, better digital interactions are needed to address the forces that were reshaping global supply chains before the crisis hit.

Tariffs from the trade wars in the United States, China and Europe had forced business to consider moving their supply chains to more cost-effective or stable regions. So companies need to finish their “nearshoring” efforts as they bring production closer to Europe and the United States. To do that, global companies will need to reach out to suppliers in places like Southeast Asia, Turkey and Mexico.

And despite the realignment of supply chains, not all of the business is coming back to a company’s home country. So companies know that they need a global presence to grow. Since business leaders can’t travel, digital communications can help open doors in other countries, but business processes that are digitally enabled or automated with procurement technology will be needed to get the value out international deals and all of their cross-border transactions.

Global Presence Sought

One procurement technology firm, Promena, has been exploring a way to increase its global range. The Europe-focused provider of solutions and services would normally travel and develop relationships in person. But instead, it opened an office in Connecticut to serve the market in the U.S.

The provider has a good reputation with customers. Spend Matters’ benchmarking system, SolutionMap, compares vendors of more than 77 procurement technology solutions, and Promena scores solidly as a Customer Leader in our view of two technology categories: Sourcing and Supplier Relationship Management & Risk.

The head of the new office, Tim McCrudden, said the first several months of the new office have helped make connections in North America, and he’s seeing businesses seeking ways to reach out to companies and customers around the world.

“From Promena’s office in West Hartford, Connecticut, we’ve worked with businesses across the U.S. weathering the coronavirus disruption,” said McCrudden, who is leading the Sales facilities of Promena in the U.S. since May 2020. “We’ve been able to help several businesses get started on a digital transformation to greatly enhance their spend-side capabilities, while at the same time simplifying procurement processes and lowering cost. This is a huge benefit for mid-size businesses looking for remote capabilities that don’t break the bank and can be put to work quickly.”

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