Procurement Personas — the Enlightened Activist

Please welcome the third in a four-part series, from Daniel Ball, director at leading UK-based eProcurement provider Wax Digital.

We’re now on to the third in our series of articles outlining the different innovation personas that we found characterised procurement professionals in our recent research. It’s time for you to meet the Enlightened Activist - a procurement type with a more progressive approach to innovation than many. While my previous posts on the Pragmatic Professional and Early Strategist looked at those in the initial stages of becoming innovative, as the name suggests, Enlightened Activists are more advanced in their innovation journey and aren’t showing any signs of stopping. If innovation has become a core tenet of your procurement focus and shapes the goals that you work towards, then perhaps you are one!

What is an Enlightened Activist?

In our survey of 100 senior managers in charge of procurement, we found 36% to be Enlightened Activists - the most common innovation persona. These are professionals who have strong processes and IT systems in place and are now analysing how they can truly bolster their performance to take best practice to the next level. With the tools to spearhead innovation well embedded in the organisation, Enlightened Activists aren’t holding back from driving change, identifying savings trends and analysing results.

However, even with strong examples of innovative behaviour to its name, the Enlightened Activist may still be faced with some internal resistance, with some members of the organisation failing to see innovation falling within procurement’s remit. This is perhaps the reason why they’re continually looking to evolve.

What does innovation mean to the Enlightened Activist?

For Enlightened Activists, innovation must look at the bigger picture and address the wider issues of the organisation. Monitoring, analysing and predicting the state of the organisation and external factors is pivotal to their approach to implementing a clear business vision and working towards an innovative culture that unifies the whole organisation behind its decisions. But Enlightened Activists always see room to become more innovative, and to win over more employees who perhaps don’t yet think procurement could or should be a leader in innovation.

How do they achieve innovation?

Enlightened Activists are passionate about using collaboration as a means of making innovation a reality. By building key relationships across the business, they can show procurement’s capabilities when it comes to driving change. And they see the value in building strong relationships within the department too, so they can solidify procurement as a strong function that can react to the business’ needs, in turn proving procurement to be agile and forward-thinking.

What innovative technology do they prioritise?

The Enlightened Activist doesn’t just see technology as a platform to carry out procurement processes. They use full-scale technology platforms like Purchase-to-Pay and Source-to-Pay, and with this technology in place they’re in a good position to influence big business objectives and play a part in taking the organisation to the next level.

In a nutshell …

If you’ve come a long way in driving change, and are continually looking at how you can evolve to truly become an innovation high flyer, you may well be an Enlightened Activist. If so you’ll be fiercely collaborative in your approach to innovation but not afraid to ruffle a few feathers along the way if necessary.

If you’re not an Enlightened Activist, maybe you’ll be the subject of my final post in the series, looking at procurement professionals with a firm hold on innovation leadership – the High-Level Visionary.

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