Back to School – 8  procurement priorities for the new academic year (part 2)

In part 1, we looked at four "back to school" ideas for procurement people to consider in the new academic year. They were all broadly people-related - today, let's have four more that focus on process and tools instead.

5  Spend data – take a fresh look

Almost everyone reading this will have some sort of spend data/analytics system or process. But if it’s taking you months at the end of every quarter (or year) to get anything useful, you need a new solution or a new solution provider. And even if it is reasonably timely, does it tell you what you need in order to identify opportunities or risks?  This is going to be a big topic for years to come as big data increases the range of data sources, the scope of what we can do with data, and how quickly we can extract and use it.  So review your current situation now. If you’re not particularly a numbers person yourself, get a smart young graduate who is comfortable with data and analytics to look at what you’re doing in this area.

6  Supply chain risk - brainstorming 

Supply chain risk is almost a bit old hat for procurement these days. Oh yes, people say. We do that. But few organisations in truth look at it thoroughly, systematically or creatively. Supply interruption tends to be the sole focus in some cases, and the “tidal wave in China” has become a bit of an obvious risk cliché to be honest. But risks are far broader and range widely in practice. What about risk of a key supplier giving preferential treatment to a competitor? Or internal fraud or corruption? Or losing the only person in procurement who understands the energy markets? A genuine creative, brainstorming session - preferably with some non-procurement stakeholders - can be a useful way of stimulating thoughts here.

7  Social media and new technology 

There is a continuous stream of new technology coming along that can potentially help procurement improve performance and organisations get more out of their supply base. And many of the ideas use  social media principles and ideas but to meet business rather than personal needs. We're going to be talking about this at an event shortly - look out for more on that soon - but keep an open mind, because this is going to change the way we work and collaborate, both with suppliers and internally, without a doubt. And there are other technology-related developments that are nothing to do with social media, whether that is market informed sourcing (optimisation) technology becoming more powerful and useful, or the big data ideas we mentioned elaier. Make sure you keep up with these developments (we like to think reading Spend Matters is a decent start in this respect) and why not aim to introduce at least one new idea to your organisation in this academic year?

8   Supply Chain Finance

And one very specific area to finish with. The coming together of ideas, technology and tools around end-to-end purchase-to-pay automation, e-invoicing, supply chain finance, dynamic discounting and all the other variations on that theme is a major hot topic for procurement (and finance) right now. There are opportunities for procurement to take the lead and drive some real benefits for the organisation. Done properly, your suppliers might even be happy too! If you haven't taken a look at the options yet, now is a good time to do that.


So good luck with Academic (procurement) Year 2014/15, and let's hope we all get the metaphorical 1st Class Degree or the 4 A-Stars at the end of it.




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