How can we make procurement more simple?

August 2022

One of the common themes for procurement in today’s environment is how can we do our job simpler? Over the years procurement process, systems and policies have become more intensive with stringency across all components. ArcBlue’s Director for New Zealand, Fiona Nissen, shares her top tips on how you can simplify your procurement.


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One of the common themes for procurement in today’s environment is how can we do our job? Simply, over time, procurement process systems policies have become more intensive with stringency across all components.

There are many reasons this has occurred, but sometimes I think it’s because we as as procurement professionals have become overexcited in the creation of our methodologies. Now, I love a good process. In a previous role as procurement governance, I was very enthusiastic about developing policy and process. That was best practice, but I had to make sure I didn’t overengineer what was developed.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned, some of them the hard way that you might want to consider when reviewing your procurement activity. What works for your team may not suit another procurement team. Sure, it’s worth considering how others are conducting their business. The fundamentals are the same, but I believe the concept of lift and shift doesn’t work.

Adapt to fit your purpose. Don’t worry about creating something uniquely special that will only confuse your team and your supply base, and that’s going to defeat the purpose of simplification. Information is key. We can’t do what we want to do if we don’t have the information available when we want it.

For me, information includes documentation like templates and guidance and policy, but also approval, visibility. And it includes data, the right data in such areas as finance, market intelligence, business demands, as well as now and for future business opportunities within your organization. Without the full picture, we can’t articulate our needs and wants to the market, and we can’t measure success.

Resources are stretched. We never have enough time. Budget all people to get everything done in procurement to simplify, we try and enable others to do some, most or all of the activities and to ensure that the business continues to function as planned. That won’t be feasible unless all the information is available and simple to utilize.

The technology can help. Consider how you utilize technology to support simplification. This might require a review of your current systems to maximize value from what’s already in place. Often, we have a system that isn’t delivering as expected. This may not be the system’s fault, but it may be aligned to the way that the system was embedded or perhaps the user restrictions placed. Controls can be maintained as appropriate, but there are often opportunities to simplify and provide information through reporting or view only settings. That enables visibility to information while maintaining appropriate governance boundaries.

Governance is a term that we use a lot in procurement and sometimes we overcomplicate it. It includes ethics, compliance and administration. Don’t think of it as a more paperwork and hassle it’s about making running your curriculum activity the best possible way to succeed.

Through simplified guidance, enabling access to information, and simple and maintained governance, we can do more with less. If you’d like a glue to take a look at your practices, policies, data, technology and governance to see how it could be simplified. Please feel free to reach out for a conversation.