It is hard to believe 2021 is at our doorstep, and while the immediate future is uncertain, the mid-to long-range outlook is virtually unknown. What we thought would be a ‘two-week’ work-from-home in March, has turned into a full-blown pandemic, and with it, the uncertainty surrounding it. Now, with a new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks breathing down our necks, tough times are here again.
As procurement professionals, we are, by nature, resilient. The toughest of times takes the strongest leadership and most innovative strategies. The pandemic and the consequences of it provided a proving ground for the often-overlooked sourcing and procurement team. Over the past year, sourcing and procurement became the lynchpin for many organizations’ survival, securing critical business and PPE-related goods and services to keep businesses afloat and employees protected. Throughout, procurement professionals were working tirelessly to create innovative cost savings and expense reduction opportunities when other departments went right to cutting staff and payroll.
At a time when the needs of the business are buoyed through critical sourcing and procurement activities, there is, perhaps, no more important function to a business.
Procurement Myth Versus Reality
Unfortunately, not everybody understands that. Many business stakeholders still think of sourcing and procurement as tactical purchasing and contract administrators, or bottlenecks that create delays in the buying process and upset suppliers. In reality, sourcing and procurement is really about negotiating critical multi-million-dollar contracts and finding the right supply chain partners to mitigate the significant risk in today’s market. Critical, not just in savings, but in the essential value and impact you have on the business.
In previous blogs, SIG has covered the basic concept of sustainability, including an overview of its various dimensions. In this post, I will touch on the role that sourcing professionals can have in meeting corporate sustainability goals.
Why should sourcing have a role?
Sourcing is uniquely positioned to contribute to meeting a corporation's sustainability goals because sourcing typically has expertise in:
Creating alignment to corporate goals
Building frameworks to measure success
Researching market conditions and supplier capabilities
Conducting strategic negotiations
Designing innovative methods for value creation
Ranking the priorities of stakeholders with supplier offerings
Identifying risk and mitigating responsibly
The reduction in costs after implementing a sustainability program can exceed the costs of implementation – in other words, you’re spending money up front but in the long run, you save more than you spend. For example, if an organization were to target the spend category of corporate services and facilities management (FM), capital may be invested in working with a supplier to install a new system that reduces energy consumption at the company's North American headquarters, but in the long run, the reduction in energy costs saves the company money – which of course, can then be reinvested.
In this example, procurement and sourcing are uniquely positioned to make this happen. Most likely Sourcing negotiated the original FM contract, understands the innovative capabilities of suppliers, has heard many recent pitches on new products, and is adept at performing the analysis that proves an investment can have a significant return in hard costs, and even soft costs.
Mary Zampino, Vice President – Content, Research & Analytics
At the SIG Procurement Technology Summit, attendees will experience the latest procurement technology in a virtual Innovation Hall. These companies are using artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation to elevate the role of procurement, ignite innovation and impact the world.
Featured here are company overview, solution overview, and company approach and process to help you learn more about the following virtual Innovation Hall technology providers:
I should know – I lived through a very painful and protracted software audit at my current company, Russell Investments, an audit that lasted over eight months from start to end. While the software provider (who I will not name) was completely within their contractual rights, I learned a lot from the experience and would like to share that experience with you – so you can learn from what we did right, and what we did wrong. For the purposes of this blog and my presentation at SIG’s Western Regional SIGnature Event, I will call this software provider “Skynet,” but rest assured the real name of the company is one you would easily recognize.
Software audits never happen at a convenient time. Our situation started in late November 2018, near the end of our fiscal year. Our various business groups were scrambling to get their purchase orders approved and issued by year-end. Any remaining budget dollars were being used to get a head start on the next fiscal year.
Skynet sent a letter to our CFO saying that we had been “selected” to receive a software license review. The word “audit” was never used in the letter. Audits are highly profitable for software companies – companies can operate within their contractual rights, as audits have a high ROI. Why? Because most clients do not have a firm grasp on the number of software licenses purchased or deployed (either on-prem or in the cloud).
While enrolled in SIG University's Certified Third Party Risk Management Professional (C3PRMP) Program, Wendy Hsu was able to immediately apply what she learned and contribute her expertise toward sourcing a third-party risk management tool to develop her organization's Third Party Risk Management Program.
In the C3PRMP program, students focus on best and emerging practices to identify, assess, manage and control third-party risk throughout the lifecycle of relationships, and learn how to align risk fundamentals and frameworks with risk culture to develop the essential tools and controls for effective governance.
In more ways than one, the learning opportunity with SIG University’s Certified Third Party Risk Management Professional (C3PRMP) program was more than coincidental. Earlier in the year, I had chosen the C3PRMP program to fulfill my 2019 Individual Development Plan objective. Little did I know that by July I would be fully engaged in assisting my manager to source a suitable third-party risk management tool and develop a project plan to implement our future Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) program. While the timing of my taking the certification program couldn’t be better, the challenges ahead of my company’s TPRM program (which will soon be called Key Vendor Management Program) couldn’t be greater given we are a young company still in the process of shaping our risk culture and standardizing our vendor review process.
Wendy Hsu, Sr. IT Procurement Consultant, Venerable
The pressure for companies to solve society’s most pressing problems is growing exponentially, fueled by the gravity of looming issues such as climate change or social inequality. While the majority of companies have already defined their corporate commitment and social impact objectives, many leaders are struggling to implement strategies that actually achieve their aspirations. Considering that 78% of executives believe their companies are failing to deliver on their social impact pledges, there’s a dire need for companies to drive social innovation across each department and generate positive social change through their day-to-day operations.
Amid the changing business landscape, companies are required to achieve two core objectives: generate profits and elevate corporate social responsibility. Due to procurement’s immense purchasing power, more executives are turning to their CPOs to drive innovation and sustainability – all while generating tangible impacts that benefit the communities they operate in. Here’s how procurement leaders can achieve these objectives and simultaneously generate new business value by adding social impact into their sourcing and procurement process.
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Benchmark & Optimize Your Spend Strategy
Gain exclusive access to a chapter highlight from Coupa’s annual benchmark report, where they look at 3 KPIs across the source-to-contract process to gauge your organization’s progress and optimize your spend strategy.
Vision is a funny thing. Until relatively recently, humans were at the mercy of circumstance when it came to sight – if you had 2020 vision, you were lucky, but if not, you had no choice but to hope for the best. Then, glasses, telescopes and microscopes were invented. Then, flashlights. Suddenly, we could see very near and very far, and even in the dark. With the right tools, our world was transformed.
Similarly, visibility in business is transforming with technology. In the past, we used notebooks and spreadsheets to transfer information. Today, we’ve seen customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and human capital management (HCM) software take off and transform the level of visibility within the business, allowing for unprecedented impact. Now, it’s Sourcing’s turn to transform and break free of spreadsheets and cumbersome legacy tools.
VSP Global Looks to Transform Sourcing
At VSP Global, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits provider in the United States, this sourcing transformation was a key priority. VSP serves over 77 million members by focusing on quality and affordability in eye care insurance, high-quality eyewear, ophthalmic technology and connected doctor-patient experiences.
To continue delivering the best results for their members, VSP Global set out to transform the way it approached the procurement process to drive better business outcomes, increasing stakeholder collaboration and visibility across the enterprise. The procurement team aligned on prioritizing four specific processes:
Stan Garber, President and Co-Founder at Scout RFP
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is creating the next largest divide not only between people, but also between organizations. Taking full advantage of AI requires a two-pronged approach by any enterprise. First is to identify the business processes that can gain most from the introduction of AI. Second is to treat AI as a key component in any reengineering effort with quality data as one of the highest priorities.
Since one key beneficial attribute of AI is that it can replace tedious, low-value human tasks, it is important to target processes that enable staff to focus on other higher-value areas. The perspective of pragmatically tackling routine processes first is echoed in research presented by Harvard Business Review, which provides a useful construct by defining three types of AI: one applied for automation, another for delivering insight, and a third for customer engagement.
Data Science: the Key to Successful AI
Greg Council, Vice President of Product Management, Parascript
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SIG Global Executive Summit
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The 2019 GEP Outlook for Procurement and Supply Chain Management is now available. This indispensable report reflects views of the industry’s best thought leaders and category experts — equipping you with procurement strategies and other essential tools to prepare you for a successful year ahead. Download your copy today!
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