Daily Archives: February 23, 2024

Another “think tank” article on digitizing procurement that’s off-the-mark!

A recent article in Supply Chain Brain noted that you should be seizing the opportunity for digitizing procurement and the doctor completely agrees. Nothing should be paper based in Procurement today. There’s no excuse for it.

And yes, multiple developments in supply chain are converging to create an unprecedented digital opportunity for procurement professionals. Furthermore, if you work on mastering and combining emerging and maturing technologies in strategic ways since procurement teams are in a position to reshape how they work, and create value across the supply chain, you can revolutionize Procurement and business performance.

But digitizing, by definition, means moving processes from scrolls to systems, from the dark basement to the illuminated screens. It DOES NOT mean that:

  • you use Gen-AI or even machine learning
    there may be tasks where you apply point-based ML, but that comes after the digitization of an appropriate process
  • you use cognification to illuminate (concealed) processes
    especially when it could illuminate you should never have digitized the process in the first place
  • you accelerate workflow through automation
    you automate what you can, and while that includes the acceleration of tactical paperwork processing and thunking, sometimes humans have to step back and think about the data received, insights produced, and options available before making a decision … you don’t accelerate whatever amount of time it takes a human to make a good decision (and, instead, focus on automating and accelerating any non-strategic tactical “thunking” tasks that prevent them from focussing their brain power where it’s really needed)
  • you go straight to content personalization
    when the users might not even know how to use the baseline systems (and, in the process, create a nightmare for the support personnel)

Digitizing Procurement starts by:

  • understanding what processes you are using now
  • understanding if they are appropriate or they should be optimized
  • identifying off-the-shelf best-of-breed modules, mini-suites, suites, and/or
    intake-to-orchestrate platforms and implementing them
  • identifying key points where RPA, ML, or other advanced techs can make the process even more efficient
  • then identifying the right advanced tech to use

Not starting with it. You should never try to run a race before you can walk. The only “impactful opportunity” identified in the article you should start with is

  • adopting ecosystem thinking to enhance data

At the end of the day, nothing works well without good data. So get the data right, and everyone aligned to get the data right, and that will get you further, and help you do better, than any piece of modern tech you can try to throw at the problem.