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
This month we kick-off SIG’s Procurement Technology Summit, have a host of exciting industry research and training to keep you up to date with Procurement’s rebirth.
Procurement Technology Summit
The 2021 Procurement Technology Summit will pioneer a new era for sourcing leaders and their teams to transform the future of procurement. Come prepared to engage and learn from the brightest industry experts, connect through AI-powered speed networking, and experience live solution deep-dives from best-in-class providers.
This year’s agenda includes a really unique line-up of keynote speakers who are covering key Procurement topics like design thinking, diversity & inclusion, the future of technologies and building a high-performing team.
We’re inviting SIG’s buy-side members and their ENTIRE TEAM to attend. Yes, you read that right! Whether you’re a team of two or 200, everyone on your team gets to attend for free!
The Summit will take place May 4 – 6 and will be 100% online, so you can attend sessions as it fits your schedule. You do not want to miss this event, so register today and get ready to be impressed!
Just last month, when thousands of people took time away from their day-to-day, to gather to focus on Sustainable Procurement at the 2021 Sustain event. There was an air of anticipation, with a whiff of panic. The 5000+ registrants and 3000+ attendees (over twice the number from last year and ten times the number just five years ago) are a testament to how Covid and all the calamity of 2020 has moved the supply chain into a very bright spotlight. A year as disastrous as 2020 demands a deep strategic rethink of how we approach, value, build and optimize our value chains, with an ESG/Sustainability lens.
Procurement, supply chain and sustainability leaders alike are groping for guidance on how they can rebuild better and more resilient supply chains in the face of such massive uncertainty. There is a visceral passion and ambition by the sustainable procurement community to reinvent. But along with this spirit was an unsettling mix of uncertainty, anxiety, and trepidation about HOW to do it right.
Four Ways we Must RETHINK Supply Chain
We see four key factors that we must RETHINK about supply chain sustainability, which sets a framework and direction for launching or accelerating a sustainable procurement program to meet the needs of the New Normal.
The supplier community plays an integral role in improving enterprise diversity standing. I’d like to share some observations from my career, along with tips for the supplier community and enterprise procurement teams to improve diverse supplier access, expand opportunities and provide support.
A Risky Approach to Client Management
Historically, client management and sales practices have been disjointed and focused on winning by dividing and conquering. A generation of sales teams has been trained to get as much information as possible out of the client organization to sell them what they have, instead of what the client needs, and have been somewhat siloed in the process.
In large supplier organizations, clients doing business with them on the applications side would struggle to engage from the marketing or infrastructure side. This short-sided view usually led to the client chasing the supplier organization to find the right resources.
The "whole client" management approach is necessary to transform the sales process to fit the more modern and sophisticated enterprise customers. Not having a modern sales approach is one area where clients, both Procurement and business stakeholders, get incredibly frustrated when dealing with a supplier organization. Many of the practices considered “old-school sales tactics” have become relatively visible to the enterprise client. For example, taking enterprise employees (particularly business stakeholders) to lunches or dinners at fancy restaurants, sporting events in private boxes and conferences in an attempt to build relationships, with a focus on gaining commitment to sales, early visibility and access to opportunities.
Purvee Kondal, Senior Director of Technology & Engineering Sourcing
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
This guest blog post is contributed by a SIG board member to share their personal story and experiences. Diversity and inclusion are one of SIG's core values, and we hope this blog will encourage positive change. The content below does not express the views or opinions of SIG.
Over the past year, anti-Asian sentiment has again continued to rise. It is worsening across various parts of the world and in America, including shockingly, even in San Francisco! As an Asian and an immigrant, it sinks my heart every time I see it. Still, I am acutely aware of and disheartened to know that for every one reported by the media, many aren't being reported either by the media or by victims themselves.
Asia is a continent full of many vibrant cultures full of rich history and customs, some of the oldest on the planet. Our value systems perhaps make us easy targets of bullies that haven't been taught better and those that continue to harbor resentment and jealousy towards the success of hard-working Asians.
I am an Asian-American immigrant who lost my parents in a horrific and racially motivated incident almost three decades ago. Now there isn't a single day that goes by that I don't think about how globalization has made America and the world smaller, but these sentiments are still so prevalent and of all places, in America! While it's not acceptable to see these incidents anywhere but to see them in America in 2021 makes me question why our value systems have not yet evolved, despite globalization?
Purvee Kondal, Senior Director of Technology & Engineering Sourcing, Albertsons Companies
Anyone that has ever worked for SIG has heard me say that if we are going to fail, fail fast. And over the years, we’ve tried and failed at more than a few things. Truth be told, I don’t mind failing as long as we use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Fail Fast and Learn
I learned this lesson in my earliest days with SIG in 2008. We were coming to the end of my first Summit as the CEO and it had been an amazing week. For all intents and purposes, it had gone flawlessly. The speakers were incredible…the content was cutting-edge…the dialogues were advancing the industry…the property was beautiful…and our partnership with the hotel had been nearly perfect. I could not have been more excited by the energy from the event and was looking forward to capping it off with a bang during the final night.
I knew from personal experience…and from Agi (a beloved longtime colleague who had been with SIG since it was founded) that close to half the delegates – most of them providers – usually leave before the final night’s celebration, so it was an opportunity to relax a bit more with the practitioner members.
We had a beautiful evening planned for the smaller group. Buses were available to shuttle everyone to an offsite restaurant in Newport Beach, where we had local delicacies and signature cocktails ready for all. Or so we thought.
In my excitement, I spent the entire week hyping the final evening. I mean, of course I wanted people to stay, why wouldn’t I? (Side note: now very few people leave early because the surprise entertainment is always worth waiting for, so as you plan for our next in-person Summit this fall, arrange your travel plans accordingly!)
This month we host our April SIGnature Event, have a host of exciting industry research and training to keep you up to date, and registration is open for SIG’s Procurement Technology Summit.
Geofencing of Employees, Onshoring and More - The New Normal
There’s still time to register for our upcoming digital SIGnature Event on April 21. The theme for the event is The New Normal. Senior-level and above delegates will participate in an executive roundtable hosted by Oliver Wyman to discuss energy transition and sustainable procurement.
Concurrent to the Executive Roundtable session will be an interactive panel discussion on Diversity & Inclusion, hosted by Janice Green, President & CEO , Women’s Business Enterprise Council Pacific (WBEC Pacific) .
Registration is Open: SIG Procurement Technology Summit
Prepare yourself and your team for the future of business at the SIG Procurement Technology Summit May 4-6, 2021!
Registered buy-side attendees get FREE ACCESS to attend all keynote sessions, engage and learn from the brightest industry experts, connect through AI-powered speed networking and experience live solution deep-dives from best-in-class providers.
As a continuation of our celebration of diversity and inclusion this year and Women's History Month, we bring you part 2 of our Women's History Spotlight.
Purvee Kondal is a Senior Director at Globality, an advisory board member at RampRate, a Nomination Committee member for the Athena Rising Foundation Fellowship, an Athena Alliance member, and a National Association of Corporate Directors Accelerate program participant.
She is a seasoned executive with over 15 years of experience leading transformational changes at notable organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Capgemini, General Electric, and Ross Stores.
Emily Rakowski is the Chief Marketing Officer at EcoVadis. Emily brings over 20 years’ experience in high-tech marketing and consulting to EcoVadis. She previously spent many years in global marketing and demand management roles with both SAP and Ariba. Also, she is a SIG Advisory Board member.
Padmini Ranganathan is Global Vice President, Product Strategy, SAP Procurement solutions. In this role, she leads a team of experts focused on watching emerging trends and helping shape the future of digital and sustainable procurement. Throughout her 25+ year career journey, Padmini has been a passionate advocate for bringing technology to business users that simplifies and enriches their daily work and decision making.
SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Candace Masuda, outlines how soft skills evolve procurement professionals into successful stakeholder managers.
As procurement professionals, we are required to wear many hats. We are consultants, analysts, problem solvers and project managers. All these qualities are necessary but not as crucial as having internal personal/soft skills. Interpersonal skills are the key to success in leading teams, negotiating and maintaining great relationships with our internal and external customers.
Several years ago, I was fortunate to attend a management training class. Something really resonated with me in that class about leadership and styles. There was a survey that reached out to several Fortune 500 companies. The goal of the study was to determine the most favored management style amongst their employees.
What Makes a Leader
Employees were asked to think of their favorite manager, past or present. What were the skills this person exhibited which made them great to work with? The survey results were interesting. The typical characteristics were technical, analytical and on-the-job experience. However, though these skills were at the top of the list, they were not the most significant. The most valuable skill was the manager that had strong people skills. The employees worked harder, enjoyed their job and were highly motivated.
Candace Masuda, Procurement Specialist, American Honda Motor Co.