Pushing for services procurement automation

Why professional services category managers should push for automating their roles and responsibilities.

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 3 minutes

Our podcast exploring how services procurement differs from goods, highlights how managing and reporting on outcomes and delivering through statements of work is far more nuanced in comparison to managing the order and fulfilment of goods. 
Ever-leaner services procurement teams, manual processes and a number of market factors pushing the growth of outsourced services are compounding the issue – in many cases, procurement services category managers are spending the majority of their time simply processing statements of work. The time they'd prefer to spend influencing strategy, innovation, and adding value being consumed by basic administrative tasks.
Automating transactional tasks frees up human creativity
Automation, AI and 'robots' is a recurring theme of the conversation looking at the future of work with Bruce Morton from Allegis Global Solutions, and it's clear there is a pressing need for this layer of automated assistance in services procurement.
The desired skills and characteristics of a high-performing services procurement practitioner include creativity, inquisitiveness, being able to translate a business need into a clearly defined requirement and being able to challenge and manage risk. But to be able to create the space for these talents, which can't be replicated by robots, the transactional, administrative heavy-lifting needs to be automated.
Services procurement and outcome-based delivery places a much higher importance on up-front thought. The organisation needs to have clarity of what it wants to achieve before it can understand how its best to get there.
It is in this early planning and preparation where procurement can add significant value: matching business requirements with supplier capability and performance to ensure the best fit, pushing for innovative solutions, challenging milestones and contracts to mitigate risk.
By removing the overhead of repetitive, basic administrative tasks, procurement has the ability to spend more time playing to its strengths. 
Technology's role in helping procurement to add value
There are many ways a services procurement platform can take care of this problematic administrative overhead. A few examples might include automating compliance during supplier onboarding, ranking and scoring supplier proposals, or tracking and renewing policies and contracts .
However, echnology should do more than handle routine workflows. Technology also must enable the modern services procurement category manager to be more creative, make better decisions and add more strategic value:
  • Better supplier intelligence can foster more collaborative supplier relationships right down into the long tail of the supply chain, and create more opportunities for innovation, as well improve cost reduction, by working with the right supplier for every project, every time.
  • Leveraging powerful real-time performance insights can help procurement ensure better outcomes by creating visibility of actual return on investment. 
In summary: Technology can help procurement teams to improve efficiency and effectiveness with automation
Pushing for automation may suggest technology could replace the role of people in services procurement. But that's not true. By allowing procurement teams to play to their strengths, technology will increase the strategic and creative importance of the role of services category management.


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