Digital Transformation

Creating The Right Digital Experience Is Key To Your Procurement Team’s Success (A SIG Summit Keynote Review)

Digital Transformation procurement

At the heart of that urgency is assessing and then mobilizing your procurement team’s digital capabilities throughout the extended organization.

How do you mobilize your procurement team’s digital capabilities?

With this third article from the 2022 SIG Procurement Technology Summit Keynote Series, I will share with you the "key insights" from Chris Kee (VP, Sourcing and Procurement at Northwestern Mutual) and Colin Frazier (VP – Solutions at ZIP) keynote on creating the right digital experience.  

To better understand what creating the right digital experience around your team's procurement process involves, you must first understand your organization’s procurement workflow.

What Is The “Procurement Workflow?”

When asked, "what does the term procurement workflow really mean to you,” Northwestern’s Kee indicated that it does more than encompass the process for supplier onboarding. Kee believes the workflow process involves all critical end-to-end touchpoints, including reviews and signoffs. It also provides total stakeholder transparency to address company risk and privacy, legal, and data security requirements.

Furthermore, procurement professionals can't only be involved in the transactional process, which has traditionally been the case. Beyond managing the process from start to finish, procurement professionals also need to be capturing stakeholder engagement feedback to best manage the supplier relationship post-contract.

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

Closing The Digital Acceleration Gap In Procurement

digital procurement

In what will be the first of several articles on the 2022 SIG Procurement Technology Summit Keynote Series, I will share with you the insights from each session, starting with today's post on my discussion with Shashank Saxena, General Manager for VNDLY - A Workday Company.

In the session - aptly titled "Closing The Digital Acceleration Gap In Procurement," Shashank and I talk about the disruptive approaches and new innovations that will reshape how procurement leaders can satisfy their most pressing strategic imperatives.

A little background information is in order before getting into the above specifics.

The New Digital Imperative

"Everyone wants to do digital transformation – think of all the board level priorities you have this is probably the most and biggest."

The above words by Shashank resonated with me on many levels.

They are a reminder of how far we have come over the past few years and how we still have a way to go before we achieve or realize the full potential of the digital promise.

What do I mean when I say "the full potential" of the digital promise?

A December 2019 Forbes article reported that "70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one." However, recognizing the importance of having a digital strategy is not the same as realizing the anticipated return as "only 7% of companies have fully implemented their digital transformations." As you can see, there is a notable difference between having a strategy and the ability to implement it successfully, and it is quite a gap to bridge.

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

Intelligent Automation Implementation: A Matter of Discipline

Intelligent Automation for procurement

SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) program graduate David Romo-Garza discusses how discipline and organizational changes will create efficiencies throughout the lifecycle designed to implement Intelligent Process Automation.


Automating processes is still a challenging endeavor for multiple organizations. Lines of Business (LoB) continue to struggle to understand the steps that it takes to implement and manage Intelligent Automation efforts effectively. Bringing discipline to an undisciplined culture creates a multitude of barriers that have a trickle effect that prevents organizations from effectively automating their processes.  

Navigating the Lines of Business and Processes

During my last position at my current organization, I experienced the pains and aches from both perspectives, the LoB and the Process Owner. On one end, I represented the LoB, who was trying to automate the due diligence procedures related to vetting our third parties.  While the process was considered automated, it was ineffective and broken. It required countless manual tasks, including requiring end-users to save their assessments in an excel spreadsheet.  

Additionally, the system design contained a detrimental limitation that prevented users from partially completing an assessment and returning later.  The system did not have the ability to save progress prior to completing and closing their official assessments.  Further, the system did not effectively introduce business controls designed for preventive nor detective error/compliant applications.

David E. Romo-Garza, Director of Business Risk and Controls

Successful Digital Transformation Requires an Inspection of all Business Processes

Procurement organizations are uniquely positioned to drive their companies' innovation agenda because no other function can “serve as the window to the outside world.

At the time of writing this piece, I am just one of five million people emerging from the world’s longest coronavirus-related lockdown, in Melbourne, Australia. For nearly two months, I was only allowed to leave the house once a day for essential items and required to stay within three miles of my home. From takeaway meals to IT support, to doctor’s appointments, most of the goods and services I've needed have been ordered virtually. Since COVID-19 hit, I’m amazed at how quickly the world went virtual.

Along with SAP colleagues and millions of workers globally, I’ve quickly adapted to working from home – connecting with others through virtual collaboration and networking tools. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received a notification in the mail that my driver’s license needed to be updated to reflect my correct birth date, requiring me to physically go to VicRoads, the DMV for the state of Victoria. How is it possible that under the strictest lockdown in the world, with thousands of workers operating remotely, I was still required to be physically present at the DMV to confirm my birth date and identity; especially knowing that the documents required could have easily been scanned and sent?

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the journey to digital transformation was underway across many industries. Whether through the purchase of large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) offered by companies like SAP, or through individual contracts with suppliers specializing in virtual banking, e-signatures, contracts or hiring, companies have taken steps to manage their businesses digitally. This move has paid off in the current environment.

Baber Farooq, Head of Product Strategy, SAP Procurement Solutions

Procurement's Role in Digital and Agile Transformations

Procurement digital and agile transformation

There’s no question that companies are turning to technology to manage many facets of their operations, and procurement is no different. Adopting a technology platform to manage one business unit can result in positive changes, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. But what happens when a company decides to go through a complete agile and digital transformation?

Our client, College Board, decided to undertake such a sweeping change, and while they’re still on their journey, they are seeing positive outcomes across the organization. About five years ago, College Board saw successive changes in leadership with a new CIO coming in, followed by a new CPO. When they joined the team, College Board had disjointed technology – no department could communicate with another. So, the decision was made to jump into the deep end and take on a complete agile and digital transformation.

Building a Movement

The agile transformation, which would ultimately lead to the digital transformation, required a culture change at College Board. They knew behaviors had to change, both individually and companywide. There was a serious need for collaboration and cross-functional teams to remove the silos each department was in, which could be fostered by new technologies.

And College Board’s 1,800 employees and 250 contractors had to be on board. So, it all started with leadership. The organization’s forward-thinking CIO and CPO laid out clearly defined goals and strategies. Setting the example that this would be successful went a long way in encouraging employee buy-in.

Shashank Saxena, VNDLY CEO and Co-Founder

Why the Sourcing Status Quo Is No Longer an Option

Half of all procurement organizations will have near-real-time procurement analytics.

According to Gartner’s latest predictions, in just four short years, half of all procurement organizations will have near-real-time procurement analytics – will yours be one of them?

While we can argue the probability of this claim (along with the debatable prediction that we will see a large rise in voice-command PO processes), there is certainly no denying that the way companies do business is changing. Between hyper-automation, machine learning, and a renewed focus on user-centric design, we can now access and influence limitless channels in a matter of seconds. With this massive influx of new data and opportunities for connection, sourcing and procurement must adapt to the rapidly evolving market or risk falling behind.

Like Sales with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms or Human Resources with Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions, modern sourcing organizations need technologies that will empower them with visibility into their processes, proactively manage projects and mitigate risks, and generate actionable insights based on real-time data.  

Why Digital Transformation is Mission-Critical for Your Business

Implementing new technology can seem daunting, but with an effective change management strategy, you’ll find that the benefits far outweigh any costs. If you’re still on the fence about adopting modern solutions, here are five benefits your organization is missing out on by continuing with its current processes. 

Chris Crane, Co-Founder, Product, Scout RFP, a Workday company

SIG Speaks to Alex Saric, Chief Marketing Officer, Ivalua

Alex Saric is the Chief Marketing Officer at Ivalua.

Alex Saric is Chief Marketing Officer at Ivalua and has spent over 17 years of his career evangelizing Spend Management, shaping its evolution and working closely with hundreds of customers to support their Digital Transformation journeys. As CMO, Alex leads overall marketing strategy and thought leadership programs. At SIG's Eastern Regional SIGnature event on September 12, Alex will show you how to map a path that allows you to rapidly progress to best-in-class procurement to establish a competitive advantage in your company. He began his career in the U.S. Army Cavalry, leading tank and scout platoons through two combat deployments. Alex holds a B.S. in Economics from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an international M.B.A. from INSEAD.


How should success be defined when it comes to digital transformation?

The temptation, and what we see most often today, is viewing it as performance on a set of metric benchmarks. Falling in the top quartile or top 20% of metrics, like percent under management and a level of touchless invoicing can qualify companies as best-in-class, which is often viewed as a success. These metrics are good to track and work toward, but they should be interim objectives on a longer journey. If those are your goals, you are on a path to mediocrity, not toward being a strategic value driver.

Stacy Mendoza, Senior Marketing Manager

Sidestep High Failure Rates in Digital Transformation

Smart city and communication network concept

Adopting digital transformation (DX) leads to significant growth for organizations when compared to their lagging peers, according to McKinsey and Company research. McKinsey suggests that there are five approaches to plan for and incorporate into any digital transformation (DX) project: ensuring lean process design, digitizing the customer experience, selective process outsourcing, incorporating analytics to aid with decision-making and using intelligent automation for non-core human tasks.

These five approaches make sense; however, there are many speed bumps along the way that will amplify the risks of any DX undertaking. The reality is that few organizations are ready to attempt such an endeavor. The obstacles are enormous. Mapping and documenting processes, culture and change management, access to data science skills, access to the data itself, and managing many moving parts of an implementation are just a few of the complex tasks that an organization must tackle.

As a result, these capability problems have led to a change of thinking both on the part of enterprises and by the organizations that provide services to them. It is critical to examine the key challenges along with potential strategies to resolve these problems.

Greg Council, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management

The Role of AI in Your Vendor Negotiations

Robot with AI

Negotiation is a fundamentally human act between two or more people. When it comes to vendor negotiations, this is driven by the prior (and future) relationship between human counterparties. While digital processes can support this mission, if a key decision maker involved in a vendor negotiation goes on vacation, changes jobs or gets hit by a bus, the negotiation will stall or scramble to reach a conclusion. It’s a good reminder that no matter what role artificial intelligence (AI) plays in a negotiation, the negotiation process and award decision are driven by humans. 

The true purpose of AI is to make human negotiators more effective by reducing their time spent on busywork (rather than removing humans from the negotiation process). This insight about how technology can augment and empower procurement teams (rather than displacing them), is of fundamental importance 

For those participating in the vendor negotiations, it is likely that their companies book travel through a digital app that aggregates and discounts airline tickets. It is also likely that the hotel and ride to the meeting are also booked via digital apps. Thus, the technology stack that supports this “in-person meeting” is being mediated by a variety of digital apps (many of which already leverage AI), apps that support (rather than displace) the crucial in-person business negotiation by reducing the number of low-value transactional tasks and phone calls.

Edmund Zagorin, Founder and CEO, Bid Ops Inc.

Technological Trends in 2019: A New Look at Supplier Diversity

Supplier Diversity Technology

In 2019, global supply chains are focused on technology and innovation. Today’s global supply chains are often complex, with many moving parts. However, procurement professionals are facing increasing pressure to manage them with efficiency and transparency. Creating a successful supply chain requires building a sustainable foundation. Though technology mobilizes supply chains to compete faster and better in today’s global economy, having a strategy to optimize your talent is just as important. Technology that gives business users more autonomy and security are reflected in a positive impact on your organization’s bottom line.

Based on my experience, many businesses have separate initiatives that fragment their supply chains and could benefit from pooling resources and aligning different stakeholders to the same common goals with the use of technology. For example, many businesses have separate supplier diversity processes. They have supplier diversity experts who don’t collaborate with their larger procurement teams. Sourcing and procurement professionals are often incentivized differently and often don’t communicate nor see eye to eye on the same overall strategy. With collaboration, your organization can streamline its supply chain and build a stronger foundation for process-driven results.

In today’s market, you can no longer ignore the rapidly changing landscape of digital transformation. Companies that are reluctant to embrace the technologies that bring better visibility and security to supply chains risk being left behind. To avoid that fate, here’s what companies can do in 2019 to improve supplier diversity and overall supplier relationship management process.

Daryl Hammett, CSMP, CSP, General Manager/Chief Operating Officer at ConnXus

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