Updated: Nov 21, 2022
For more than a decade, technology has been redefining the way we work. One of the biggest changes in recent years is the rise of remote work. No longer does office work have to involve spending 9-5 at a desk in the company office. Now, thanks to cloud platforms and connectivity through digital solutions, employees can take their work home while businesses can enjoy reduced operational costs and increased staff productivity.
As the restrictions introduced by the Covid-19 pandemic have shown, things aren’t always so straightforward. An area which has been severely impacted in recent months is Procurement. Global supply chains now face many uncertain challenges due to the disruptions caused by lockdown regulations and economic uncertainties. For companies used to working with in-house teams, the transition to remote work has been anything but smooth.
But there is a silver lining. Numerous studies have demonstrated how remote work can lead to many long-term benefits, such as improved productivity and a better work/life balance for employees. Not to mention the many cost-savings for enterprises. There’s no doubt that remote work is here to stay. And businesses must act accordingly.
Still, largely due to its sudden urgency, the transition has proven challenging for large enterprises. Procurement leaders now find themselves struggling to minimise any further disruption to the enterprises purchasing capabilities. Digitising manual processes and simplifying existing processes is a must, especially for long-tail procurement. At the same time, they must ensure compliance and the safety and wellbeing of their teams as operational processes make a dramatic shift toward distributed work environments.
Here are three ways procurement leaders can adapt:
#1. Ensure seamless communication
Maintaining clear lines of communication is the most important thing in every business department. That also counts for Procurement teams. Procurement must maintain regular contact with suppliers to build robust and honest relationships during times of uncertainty. They must look for and quickly onboard new suppliers to keep the business moving. At the same time, they still need to vet suppliers carefully with know-your-customer, anti-money laundering and credit checks.
The importance of internal communication cannot be understated either. Procurement leaders need to manage a diverse range of roles and responsibilities and ensure efficient communication channels between Procurement and the organisation. Regular online meetings, video conferences, and virtual workspaces are now all part of the course. Leaders need to drive a culture shift by being clear about their objectives and making sure there is clear segregation of duties between employees. Smarter cloud-based procurement solutions provide a means for enterprises to facilitate efficient communication channels and simplified workflows.
#2. Redefine your workflows
Many procurement processes are still manual and paper-based, which presents a major challenge to remote teams. There’s also a big risk of unclear workflow processes leading to less productivity and costly errors. Technology can provide the solution for most, if not all of these challenges. But only once there are clearly defined workflow processes.
Therefore, Procurement leaders need to map out digital workflows that are easy and logical for employees to follow remotely. This includes routine operations, such as supplier onboarding, purchase approval, handling of invoices and B2B payments. All while maintaining full visibility into corporate spend. Once key operational processes and workflows has been outlined, the enterprise needs to choose the solution that align with them.