Now is as a good a time as any for reflection, evaluation and ultimately goal setting. You can start by taking a look at the "big picture" on what's going right (or wrong) with inventory and procurement, and take the opportunity to forecast the accomplishments you want to attain. You can definitely set realistic and achievable goals with your procurement practices.
The Harvard Business Review has a helpful article on recognizing the important role procurement has on companies and organizations. Check out this article for inspiration, as it highlights leadership, measurement and other goal-oriented ideals.
So, how are you going to achieve your goals this year?
As you know the answer isn't "work harder." Instead, think about the components (and/or obstacles) in reaching your goals so that you can work smarter. These components include:
- Tapping into technology
- Harnessing data
- Planning for new challenges, and
- Strengthening vendor relationships.
For starters: Do you have an ePro (electronic procurement) solution fully implemented? Having an ePro solution in place can reduce unnecessary processes and streamline your efforts. For more tips on why you should automate processes, read the following Grainger article. Transitioning procurement activities and processes online can save a lot of steps, time and free up resources that can be applied to other areas of the process or your organization.
The topic of big data is one that occurs a lot more frequently now. However, the real opportunity isn't simply the amount or complexity of your data but how you use it. You can begin by collecting as much data as you can, and then mine it for nuggets of helpful information. Does the data indicate that certain groups or divisions are not taking advantage of your ePro solution? If so, there are ways to train or retrain individuals or teams in the procurement process while utilizing big data to identify and prioritize any gaps that need addressing. Using big data wisely also means measuring your efforts more regularly to ensure you're staying focused on achieving your goals.
The bridge between technology and data now incorporates blockchain. If you're not familiar with it, blockchain is a digital ledger for records management activities such as transaction processing and identity management. Blockchain technology is popular in the finance sector but also has potential for procurement. It can mean more secure ways to store your transaction data, plus provides faster and easier access to the data. Take time to read up on blockchain and think about ways it could be implemented in your operations--now or in the future.
3. New Challenges
Think about the potential risks and challenges that have come up and ones that could surface in the year ahead. As noted in an article from Supply Chain Quarterly, look at your sourcing set-up and other sourcing models you might consider. Examine how effectively you have selected supply chain sources and how you can get the most out of your sourcing model moving forward.
Take the time to ensure that many of your suppliers aren't only from a certain region of the world or a country that could have unexpected interruptions, such as weather and nature-related risks to political or economic risks. New challenges will continue to pop up, which is why planning for future scenarios is important to staying focused on achieving your goals.
4. Vendor Relationships
Your vendors offer a variety of options and they certainly have a lot of key learnings from other customers. Take the time to tap into their wealth of knowledge, experience and best practices. For example, visit Grainger's website, which looks at the different options and routes involving order management and e-procurement, including many best practices.
Whatever your goals are, they likely involve tech, strategy and teamwork. Take a moment and plan ahead for how you're going to get them accomplished.
Brock Hirschman is the Director of Large Customer eCommerce Solutions and leads a team that drives implementation, penetration and adoption of B2B eCommerce and eProcurement solutions across the large market customer base. He works closely with IT, eCommerce Development, Sales, and customers to develop, integrate, and deploy Grainger's digital solutions.