Empathy is the way to build trust. And the strongest, most productive relationships are built on trust. It’s certainly that way in our personal lives. So it stands to reason that it’s the same with professional relationships. Yet, too often, empathy is left out of the equation when identifying and implementing solutions in the business world in general and in procurement specifically.
That’s not good because, as we all know, strong stakeholder and supplier relationships are the bedrock of a successful Procurement Ecosystem. That’s why the more I’ve learned about the concept of Design Thinking the more I am convinced it can be a game-changer for procurement.
Design Thinking Isn’t a Strategy, It’s a Mindset
What is Design Thinking? Well, it’s not a new concept. It’s been around since at least the 18th century. But its wisdom is just now being embraced by procurement teams, so it feels new.
Basically, Design Thinking involves a different mindset for how to define and solve problems and it begins with empathy for the end-user. The process starts with really listening to and understanding the biggest challenges and pain points for your stakeholders. The idea of putting yourself in their shoes, so you can be sure you are addressing their true needs and not what you think they need.
Design Thinking is a highly creative and iterative process that encourages a lot of experimenting and prototyping. The goal is to fail fast to learn even faster. When you put together a prototype and test it out, your end-users provide feedback for what works and what doesn’t in an iterative feedback loop. The end result, in theory, yields greater stakeholder alignment, better adoption rates, and demonstrates procurement’s strategic value to the business.
Greg Anderson, SVP, Sales North America, WNS Denali
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.” – Elizabeth Edwards
When I was a kid, we never said the word resilience, but we did use the word tough. Being tough is just what we need right now; toughness is our ability to spring back, even when the world around us crumbles (think COVID-19). Our resiliency grows every time we flex – just like a muscle in our body. Developing a resilient procurement team likely means you are “starting over” – or creating a fresh start in some areas of your procurement ecosystem. If you’re feeling stuck or unsure where to start, you aren’t alone. Below are five ways that Procurement can help improve business resiliency:
Let me start by making something clear: I’m a process guy. I started my career as an engineer on a production line. I have spent the past 20 years working in supply chain, helping clients improve operational efficiency and deliver value in more predictable and repeatable ways. If you ever need a process map for anything, school projects included, ask my kids because I’m your man. So, when my team at WNS-Denali shared the results of our recent benchmark study, I was ready to dive into operational improvement mode. Where did we find inefficiency? How can we help our clients improve performance at scale? I was surprised at what we saw in the findings.
Reading the Procurement Data
What we saw is a tremendous amount of variation. In fact, if you only looked at the findings through the lens of traditional procurement performance models, the data do not lead to very specific conclusions about procurement’s value. So, we decided to flip the analysis model on its head and examine some different correlations.
We focused on two separate benchmark rankings: value and business alignment. For value, we looked at traditional procurement KPI’s: spend under management, savings, process efficiency, and operational excellence. When measuring business alignment, we looked for more subtle trends and indicators of deep stakeholder alignment, effective change management, agile procurement, and adaptive operating models. What did we find? The responses did not point to any single “best” procurement operating model, technology package or spend management process. There was NO PROCESS MAP for best-in-class procurement! Instead, high-performing organizations had one thing in common: a mindset emphasizing tight alignment with business objectives – what we call Total Business Alignment.
Greg Anderson - Senior Vice President of Procurement Services, WNS-Denali