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Execute with Confidence: Three Lessons for Aligning Strategy and Technology in Sourcing

Rarely used and dusty, legacy tools have a funny way of stifling procurement teams’ sourcing prowess, hindering ambition and demotivating top performers. For leaders focused on future-proofing their function, their only choice is to incorporate top sourcing strategies into everyday business practices.

Fortunately, modern platforms are finally starting to address the needs of more flexible, collaborative teams. And timing is prime to assess how to achieve even more, as 61% of procurement leaders delivered better year-on-year savings performance than last year, according to The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2018.

But, choosing the right methodology to deliver these results is no easy feat. Initiatives for company-wide transformation are rising, and the catalog of available technology is ever-growing. It’s no surprise fewer than 5% of companies have re-engineered their sourcing process to embed and leverage e-sourcing tools (Gartner).

Aligning Strategy and Technology in Sourcing

However, by aligning sound procurement strategies with modern sourcing tools, teams can drive collaboration, strengthen stakeholder engagement, and create cultures of data awareness. Here are three lessons in instilling change with true sourcing strategy:

Lesson One: Facilitate Collaboration, Starting with Simplicity

Everyone always talks about the “the bottom line”, but in today’s evolving sourcing industry, teams need to find more creative ways to make an impact beyond just cost savings.

Even at top-tier technology enterprises, where company culture necessitates living and breathing optimization and innovation, inspiring collaboration and making it “stick” is a lot harder than it sounds. Adding another process, tool, or system with high levels of complexity is still unappealing for employees.

Yet, when companies focus on simple solutions, encouraging a more collaborative mindset is an attainable goal. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, implementing collaborative processes and networking tools improved productivity by 20-30% in global software development teams.

So, what defines the Excalibur of sourcing collaboration? The best e-sourcing solutions accommodate many types of learning curves and facilitate working with each other by simply being easy-to-use. Because when sourcing offers an empowering and self-serving platform that’s inviting for both sourcing and stakeholders, adoption increases, breeds, and persists throughout all departments. Full-steam ahead, collaboration.

Lesson Two: Make Strong Stakeholder Engagement the Standard

So, how does heightened collaboration encourage high stakeholder satisfaction?

By building a foundation of strategic collaboration, sourcing and stakeholders can work hand-in-hand, effectively aligning themselves toward shared business goals, bracing for sudden change, or raising productivity levels.

For one, internal customer and supplier relationships usually make up the foundation of the enterprise’s livelihood. According to that same Deloitte 2018 CPO Survey, “The most common leadership traits in procurement are acting as a role model, collaborating internally and externally to deliver value and delivering results.”

Through an accessible and inclusive cloud-based portal, team members from any department can congregate and collaborate in real-time. Kellee Garcia, of VMWare’s Global Strategic Sourcing team, raves, “Our stakeholders are pleasantly surprised. They’re used to cumbersome tools, but are delighted by the simplicity of Scout.”

Lesson Three: Create a Culture of Data Awareness

If sourcing teams aren’t looking to the future with quality data as their guiding light, the core values of intuitiveness and universal collaboration crumble and fall to the wayside.

Today’s most effective procurement teams best position themselves for the future by consolidating information in a central source of truth, an agile e-sourcing solution that helps teams extract and optimize insights from their data. As Ted Colbert, Chief Information Officer at Boeing notes, “You have to figure out how to really democratize the data-analytics capability, which means you have to have a platform through which people can easily access data.”

Colbert has a point. Clean data isn’t really useful unless it’s able to trickle down and affect other layers of business analytics, usually with an e-sourcing solution as the vehicle. This way, sourcing teams can truly take advantage of their data. Garcia attests that, on the reporting side, “one thing we recognized due to the ability to customize fields and obtain up-to-date, real-time reporting was that we have doubled the number of projects taken to market compared to the legacy solution.”

Strengthen Relationships for the Long Haul

Although collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and data optimization seem out of reach, aligning these strategies with well-fitted technology can be done and has, proven by worldwide Centers of Excellence dedicated to this task.

Enterprises leading change aren’t afraid of innovation; instead, they are steadfast, pummeling business problems head-on. How else can you provoke influence within the greater business, and hopefully, the industry itself?

By moving full-force towards an e-sourcing solution that’s agile, acting as a gateway for collaboration, teams can strengthen their business relationships and reap the benefits of optimal quality data, thus invoking a new way of thinking and evangelizing change.

Want to learn more about procurement transformation, told first-hand by Garcia and her leading sourcing team at VMWare? Read our case study here.

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