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One surefire way to derail your procurement digital transformation

WNS Denali

Alpar Kamber, head of Procurement Services at WNS, gives two very good reasons why procurement digital transformation planning and implementation fail. "Too often, we are required to spend time upfront unraveling past failed attempts before we can dig in and offer workable digital solutions for our clients," he explains.

Many firms are convinced that the key to their success is to find the right tool with the right functionality. They therefore change their digital toolset frequently, trying out the leading digital tools in the industry. When one doesn't work, they immediately scrap it for the next solution, often resulting in the same unsatisfactory outcomes.

Why the constant change? Because they started on their digital transformation journey without a long-term strategy. The problem isn't the digital solutions, it's their operating model, processes and programmatic approach.

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CPO Masters of Agility (Part 1) — Actionable Answers to Complexity

2021 CPO Survey

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the impact of COVID-19 on our personal and professional lives over the last year. Friends and colleagues in India are currently experiencing unprecedented hardship with the pandemic, and although we’re all connected globally, we can only succeed with leadership, empathy and determination. Businesses like Deloitte are playing a role here, and luckily, we have a secret weapon called the supply chain that can help, especially with Procurement leaders who can harness the power of their employees and their suppliers to rise to the massive complexity facing us right now. But we need to move faster to meet the moment and prepare for a different future than we envisioned a year ago.

Even when the pandemic subsides, complexity is here to stay, and this is why we chose “agility” as the theme for our just-released 10th annual Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey titled “Agility: The Antidote to Complexity.”

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How to boost confidence and agility with Budget to Pay

GEP Budget to Pay

Typical budgeting approaches — including ZBB, or zero-based budgeting, and a variety of other cost reduction initiatives — have been the norm for years. However, maverick, non-compliant spending continues to be a big obstacle to delivering value and leads to savings leakage.

A fully compliant purchase means buying from the correct supplier, at the right price and with adequate volume. To drive spending through compliant channels, mature organizations use rigorous procure-to-pay solutions to address the price and supplier aspects of compliance. It works well.

But where you don’t see a fully evolved solution is in the demand control space.

What can you do?

Try a holistic, closed-loop demand compliance approach to budgeting — what we at GEP call Budget to Pay.

Organizations have made some strides in demand compliance. Many have done three steps really well:

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Incremental to exponential: 5 overlooked benefits of procurement automation


The most obvious benefits of AI-powered procurement automation are speed and efficiency. But a more holistic and compelling business case for investing in automation requires consideration of ancillary benefits. These advantages are often more important than speed and efficiency and they can crystalize the case for senior executives that automation can lead to a step change in procurement performance.

Across the source-to-pay procurement solution landscape, automation solutions powered by robotic process automation (RPA), natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) are emerging to help teams improve performance like never before. The problem: many procurement leaders still struggle to articulate the business case clearly. Alan Holland, CEO of Keelvar, gives five overlooked benefits of procurement and sourcing automation that should be front and center of your initiative.

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Delivering Value Beyond Savings — Procurement’s Role in Times of Disruption

procurement's role

Deeply hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are now exploring innovative ways to drive additional profits and increase revenue. Hard-hit sectors like manufacturing, entertainment, transportation and hospitality, to name a few, remain gripped by uncertainty. It may take a while, years in some cases, for companies in these industries to recover to pre-COVID levels.

Companies are now in a quest to redefine their business models. Finding cost-cutting technologies or tools to help drive sales, mitigate risks and maximize cashflow is now a greater priority for many. And for some organizations in this revised business scenario, it’s their lifeline.

Procurement plays a significant role here, not only for the result it can bring to the bottom line but also for the increasingly strategic role procurement teams are playing. Now is the time for procurement managers to redefine themselves — from buyers to strategic partners across the entire supply chain.

Let’s look at some of the ways procurement can help the organization achieve its goals.

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving — Procurement Education

It’s the holiday season and I’m sure we all feel the same way as we approach the New Year — relieved that the four numbers “2020” will soon no longer show up in our calendar.

With the joy that comes with the holidays and the thought of putting this year behind us, I know many of you that lead the procurement, supplier management and/or risk management functions of your organization are wondering how to reward your team to set them and your organization up for success in 2021.

Many of your organizations likely cut budgets this year, while some of your organizations may have extra spend sitting in the training budget since many in-person training and events were canceled this year. While we all love cool gadgets and gift cards and hope not to receive a dried up fruitcake, the best gift for your team should be special, meaningful and continue to reward year after year.

The perfect gift would show your team how much you appreciate them, while providing an opportunity to develop their skills. Certifications in strategic sourcing, supplier management, third-party risk management and intelligent process automation can bring you that win. Earning skills in these areas bring many benefits not only to the individuals who attain them, but also to the organizations that employ them. It also advances the profession in general along with the respect for those in that profession.

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Do I need a procurement strategy for next year? Try this 5-step assessment

procurement goals

Many procurement organizations see annual planning as a time to set savings goals and identify sourcing opportunities that will allow them to meet these goals. This is an understandable approach since it paves the way to understanding the coming year’s workload, which can in turn, inform budgets, resource needs and org structure.

However, rushing off to plan your savings pipeline without considering your company’s business goals can quickly get you out of synch with your stakeholders. Instead of jumping to the savings plan, it’s helpful to take a step back and assess what the business wants you to deliver and how you can meet those expectations. With this knowledge, you can set an intentional plan and strategic roadmap for the coming year.

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Is the problem that services spend is complex or simply that you have bad spend data?

When it comes to services spend, many organizations find it difficult to manage. CPO Innovation reports that “services spending can range from almost 50 to 80% of what firms buy from outside vendors.”

Just like any category of spend, especially indirect, it all goes back to the data. There’s the adage, “if you can't measure it, you can't manage it.” We know the goal of an organization is to have as much spend under management as possible — but if you don’t have good visibility into your spend, how can you expect to manage it properly?

In this post, we review the complexity of services spend, the importance of cleansing your spend data, and how doing so can help you manage not just your services spend better but all indirect spend.

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Digital Procurement balances business requirements to improve efficiencies 

tail spend

Coordinating the various needs of a business is a challenge, for small and large organizations alike. Whether you’re looking to improve your processes or meet projected targets, ensuring everyone in your business has what they need to function optimally can take up precious time and resources that hinder opportunities for more strategic projects and talent development.

Empowering teams to own their procurement processes through digital purchasing systems improves efficiencies while maintaining staff independence. By ensuring everyone in the organization has the items they need without inundating the procurement team with purchase requests, operational requirements are balanced in a way that improves business function and helps achieves goals.

Procurement teams need to go through internal processes of implementing digital change, while still streamlining processes to secure the resources and financial wellbeing for the broader organization. One way to do this is through online procurement, which provides substantial benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Following are a few tips on how using a centralized procurement function can improve your business.

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Three years down the line: How Amazon Business is revolutionizing procurement

Amazon Business UK Dave Brittain

In a nutshell, Amazon Business was created to make businesses’ lives easier by saving them time and money. It is essentially the convenience of an e-commerce site optimized for the needs of B2B businesses. It has various clever tools and features to help increase efficiency and improve productivity, and is expanding the use of machine learning to automate manual and time-consuming tasks, making processes more streamlined. In a short period of time, it has helped millions of companies in Europe reap the benefits of digital buying. Spend Matters talks to the head of Amazon Business UK.

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Hang on and hang in: The roller coaster won’t last forever

If the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that the world is in a constant state of flux. We can’t afford to become complacent or too comfortable.

I often find that once the dust has settled and some time has elapsed, I look back at those “What else could go wrong?” moments and realize I’m now a more resilient person better equipped to confront the unknown. Each catastrophe pushes us and our organizations to be innovative and operate with tenacity.

The best we can do now is to prepare ourselves to come back stronger and smarter.

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Integrations for a truly connected technology ecosystem: A conversation with VNDLY’s Chief Technology Officer

As companies continue to adapt to the dramatic changes brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, one major shift sweeping the industry is a faster move toward creating technology ecosystems that increase the pace of digital transformation. Organizations that had long-term plans are speeding those up, and companies that were still undecided have chosen to act now.

These swift changes, in response to the unpredictable nature of today’s workforce needs, must be supported by technology that helps users effectively manage their extended workforces across their entire organizations. They may also require platforms that can share data with other systems, ensuring accuracy around all manner of contractor and traditional employee data.

When companies invest in large, sweeping platforms, like Workday, to manage company-wide departments and worker populations, they look for other platforms that integrate seamlessly and do not require engineering or maintenance provided by internal IT teams. Adopting those additional technologies that can integrate and become part of the ecosystem saves time and money, making the initial investment more valuable. For more insight into technology ecosystems and integrations, and specifically those between VNDLY and Workday, we talked with VNDLY’s Chief Technology Officer, Chuck Mobley.