Todays chief procurement officers have to face many procurement challenges in an increasingly complex environment. They can no longer focus purely on reducing costs and delivering goods and services. As the role of procurement within organisations continues to expand so the challenges it faces increases.
With processes that often involve a long supply chain or at least multiple points of contact, the chance of something going wrong is increased – the more complex a procurement process the more the risk of facing procurement challenges increases.
Challenges can delay or even spell the end of a project. But they’re not only an inconvenience to the buying organisation, they can lead to reputational damage, financial loss and in some cases litigation – all things businesses want to avoid at all costs. Whether it’s simple miscommunication, natural disaster or circumstances affecting just one link in the supply chain, challenges need to be dealt with as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Having a highly visible audit trail for the whole process is essential in order to be able to do this.
End-to-end procurement challenges
It’s easy for procurement teams to simply record what is seen as the ‘most important’ aspects of the procurement process. But when it comes to challenges, particularly those that escalate to legal proceedings, a secure, end-to-end audit process can provide the vital information which resolves a situation quickly or secures a win.
E-procurement and entirely online processes is the simplest way to ensure an audit trail is fully maintained. Any offline aspects of a process are easily lost and insecure as they’re not managed or recorded in the same fashion as everything else. Ensuring every item is recorded; even minor amends to documents or changes to contact details is essential.
Watch our explainer video which tells the story of a chief procurement specialist called Jim who is facing problems on a daily basis.
Challenges are part and parcel of the procurement process, and buying organisations will inevitably face them at some point. Therefore, incorporating risk management into the very start of the process is necessary. Assessing the risk of each provider, understanding their supply chain and putting plans in place in case things should go wrong is critical.
Without in-depth planning and a comprehensive audit trail, procurement teams are opening themselves up to unnecessary risk which could result in a significant impact on their organisation.
Technology can help overcome some of the problems of communication caused by globalization. Cloud based e procurement systems can help by enabling companies to set up standard vocabularies for business processes. As data is updated in real time reporting can be retrieved from anywhere in the world and on an increasing number of devices. This enables global collaboration between individuals anywhere in the world.
Cloud based e procurement systems enable procurement to control cost centrally but also allow for a degree of regional control making sure that all the parties involved get the best of both worlds.
Every year, companies make millions of purchases that are too small to be handled by procurement or too infrequent to be included in a single vendor catalog. Suppliers are often keen to bypass official procurement processes and employees often find them a burden to be avoided. In 80 per cent of businesses, these categories are often sourced manually using Internet searches, phone, fax, and email, allowing them to bypass the mandated rules or purchasing guidelines.
Reporting and Analysis
As the buzz continutes to grow about Big Data procurement officers could find it hard to keep up with management expectations to provide good data if it doesn’t have access to good reporting and analysis tools. Good business intelligence is crucial to help procurement understand how and why it is being successful and where it is failing.
If an organisation relies largely on mannual processes then it may not be able to trust the data it has access to.
For more on this see the article Reporting and Analysis – What you need to know about your own business.
For more information on the subject of procurement challenges here are a couple of good articles on the topic.
- Procurement 2025 – 10 challenges that Will Transorm Global Sourcing
- Ten challenges For Future Leaders in Procurement