Achieving a digitally transformed supply chain may seem like an unattainable goal for many businesses, but working in small steps may be key. In order to take your sourcing strategy to the next level, from visibility to automation, we dive into some of the benefits of incorporating new technologies and strategies into your supply chain processes.
While 94% of supply chain leaders said that digital transformation will fundamentally change supply chains in 2018, only 44% had a strategy ready, according to The Hackett Group study.
John Callan, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Coupa, a business spend management (BSM) solutions company, shared some insight with us at PartProcurer, providing some helpful tips for companies looking to take their sourcing strategies to the next level.
Companies can implement automated workflow tools to piece together their disparate systems and proceses, for starters.
According to Callan, automation is essential to any procurement transformation strategy.
“Originally designed for the ‘back office’, sourcing, and more broadly spend management (BSM), solutions lacked agility and used antiquated technologies that were expensive to maintain, resulted in poor user adoption, and lacked insights into how to better manage business spend – ultimately hindering growth,” he says.
Modern-day sourcing doesn’t have to be this way, though.
The key for organizations is in discovering how and where to automate procurement processes to optimize rather than cause more harm. The problem has always been that it is so complex. There are so many people involved, so many systems, so many stakeholders. Acquiring new products or solutions could involve multiple steps within multiple departments. There’s searching for the right supplier or provider, placing orders, deliveries, and invoices, to name a few.
One solution Coupa offers is its BSM Platform which provides businesses with greater visibility and the ability to control business spend. Coupa believes processes that don’t need user interaction should be automated, and those that do should be as easy to complete with as few steps as possible, from wherever you are.
One of the most buzzed about topics among supply chain professionals is visibility. A recent GEODIS’ 2017 Supply Chain worldwide survey of various supply chain professionals revealed that 70% say their supply chain is either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ complex. They also emphasized the strategic position it has reached in the overall organization.
“Digital transformation plays a massive part in enabling visibility into all spend,” says Callan
Solutions like Coupa create a transformation that provides a consumer-like (think “Amazon-like”) experience to business spending across all industries, including financial services, retail, healthcare, and manufacturing.
When working with automated software, users have access to actual business operating data, actionable insights, and automated optimization to reduce cost, mitigate risk, and support business growth.
“These insights help them mitigate risk, remain compliant, identify smarter spending opportunities, and improve process efficiencies across all their business spend,” Callan adds.
What About Maintaining Quality?
Some concerns arise when talking about implementing advanced technology for cost-saving efforts. Quality must be a factor when it comes to evaluation and qualification. It’s important to include key performance indicators in whatever processes a company incorporates, such as delivery, cycle time, and overall product quality in a final product.
“When it comes to Strategic Sourcing, businesses need to be agile and empowered to make informed decisions, quickly,” says Callan. “With advanced sourcing technology like Coupa Sourcing Optimization, you no longer need to sacrifice cost for quality or reliability. You can optimize for both, as well as for a multitude of other crucial components to your sourcing strategy, such as sustainable sourcing or risk.”
Coupa allows users to search for community-vetted best-in-class suppliers and identify the best suppliers by item or region. In addition, benchmarking visibility lets companies see exactly how they stack up against peers, competitors, and best-in-class companies.
Finally, Callan provided PartProcurer with four actions organizations should take in order to take their sourcing strategies to the next level.
- Assess where you are at the moment and establish that baseline so you can measure the performance of the strategies you implement. He recommends analyzing holistically, not just in eSourcing, eProcurement or AP. Take all of your business spend processes into account and determine how you can better manage it in a comprehensive way.
- Set goals of where you would like to be. These goals should move beyond just technology implementation to cover things like talent and business processes. Create a business case that clearly establishes the effectiveness as well as efficiency gains you expect to achieve.
- Focus on adding value one project at a time. Callan says that in this environment, it can be tempting to force comprehensive digital transformation, but it’s important to understand where your company is in terms of readiness for adoption, and scope and prioritize these efforts accordingly. Find platforms that are simple, fast to implement, and deliver immediate value.
- Move up the value ladder. Look to platforms that will empower you to deliver greater value through more strategic insights in areas such as spend analysis, strategic sourcing, supplier and risk management.