Building a better buying culture with digital transformation

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From finance to human resources, there are many sectors that have reaped the benefits of digital transformation, yet procurement is a laggard when it comes implementing new technologies and automated processes to solve business issues. Research from Hackett shows that around 68% of business executives still don’t have a digital strategy in place when it comes to procurement, and Deloitte reports that only 3% of procurement leaders claim their staff have the necessary skills to use new technology effectively.

Our recent survey of 200 senior professionals reveals that over half of those working in procurement, who have already kick-started the digital transformation process, believe their respective businesses have already become more efficient as a result. Clearly the benefits of digitising procurement and upskilling staff on new technology generates rapid ROI.

Vodaphone Procurement Company (VPC) has successfully implemented numerous digital projects across its business using artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation to simplify routine tasks. Not only has this cut procurement costs, but it has also improved both the accuracy and visibility of data allowing employees in all regions to see the most up to date information.

 

How digital transformation is shaping procurement

60% of professionals claim that digital transformation has made them more productive in their job. Digitising and centralising systems, for instance, means there is no longer a reliance on paper-based contracts and supplier-based information, allowing those working within procurement to access everything in a single system.

Also, auctions and tendering activities are more automated than ever before. Requests for proposals (RFPs) are sent out automatically, while eAuctions allow professionals to make cost savings.

Here are a few more ways technology is changing procurement for the better:

  • Improves collaboration between finance and procurement – technology facilitates finance and procurement teams to work together to meet their shared goals. New digital tools can help increase collaboration across multiple departments.
  • Technology gives you tools to understand your data – with a wealth of information being produced daily, automated processes can ensure it is captured accurately and accessed easily. Combined with analytics, data can help you understand your business better and can enable smarter buying decisions to be made.
  • Saves you money and time – technologies such as RPA and AI reduce the possibility of human error, minimising the associated costs normally required to solve issues and mistakes.

 

How to prepare your business for technology-led change

When incorporating new technologies into procurement processes, it’s vital that businesses are prepared – otherwise they run the risk of falling behind competitors. Our survey showed that nearly three quarters of procurement professionals don’t receive adequate training using new software or tools.

Here’s some tips on how you can help onboard your team with new technology:

  • Encourage your staff to ask questions – foster an environment that allows employees to ask questions or raise concerns, as this will establish clear lines of communication and empower staff to make the most of digital technologies.
  • Build a collaborative culture – encourage your staff to work together, so your business can embrace a productive culture and mindset. Strong communication across your business is imperative for a successful digital transformation project.
  • Design comprehensive training – building training packages for all employees of all abilities will help increase knowledge and usability when it comes to technology. Material could range from online videos; to face to face seminars.
  • Promote an innovation-led culture –encourage staff to think differently about how things are done and let them feel part of the business as it develops digitally.
  • Appoint a digital champion – This could be an in-house employee or an external expert, but it must be someone who understands the process behind any new technology being incorporated. This person should be able to offer guidance for the business and its employees.

 

It’s clear that digital transformation is shaping procurement for the better even if it has a long way to go to catch up with other sectors. To ensure that digital transformation is successfully implemented within procurement, businesses need to prepare their teams.

Through effective collaboration, training, skills development, and utilising knowledge that already exists within the organisation, procurement teams can also take advantage of the digital processes already helping colleagues elsewhere in the business.