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March 11, 2021 | Corry Flatt
When COVID-19 threatened to send the world into chaos and confusion over a year ago, procurement teams sprung into action. In stepping up to protect the safety of communities and citizens, you could say they’re a lot like the heroes of everyone’s favorite Star Wars movies.
In that spirit, let’s take a look at six ways public procurement teams are like the Rebel Alliance in empowering agencies to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the initial response to the pandemic, procurement teams had to nimbly adjust their processes, timelines, and priorities to source goods and services as quickly as possible. Like the Millennium Falcon evading the evil Empire, they’ve been on an urgent mission ever since to keep essential processes like vendor proposal submissions, public bid openings, and evaluations running.
More than any other government function, procurement departments have adapted to meet constantly changing needs and troubleshoot ongoing supply chain disruptions while moving most of their processes online. For many agencies, that meant compressing three to five years’ worth of digital transformation into just weeks (or even days). Now that’s moving at light speed.
Just as Luke and Han Solo team up to destroy the Death Star, today’s small-but-mighty procurement teams are well-accustomed to running lean and doing more with less. That challenge has only been exacerbated by the pandemic’s impact on public sector finances. In the near term, procurement will be tapped to support strategic decision-making around cost cuts and budget reprioritization.
At the same time, procurement teams will face the growing challenge of helping agencies meet stakeholder expectations with fewer resources. That puts even more pressure on their ability to be like C-3PO and speak every department’s language. It’s a lot to ask considering many procurement teams are a solo operation. Going forward, procurement will rely on more efficient tools and processes to respond to the skyrocketing demand for their expertise and services.
From rapidly supplying the frontlines with PPE to navigating international supply shortages of hand sanitizer, procurement is, and continues to be, a driving force for creating safe living and working environments during COVID-19.
Remember how Princess Leia protected the stolen plans to the Death Star? Procurement teams have been the custodians of crucial plans, too—in this case, to keep communities protected throughout the course of the pandemic. While COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on their important role in crisis response and recovery efforts, they’re not in it for the glory. (Though a thank you is always nice.)
Not unlike Jedis who wield their lightsabers to fight the powers of evil, today’s procurement professionals summon their own version of the Force: smart, automated tools. And while the evils they’re fighting – process inefficiencies and time-wasting manual effort – aren’t exactly threatening to obliterate the galaxy, they do compromise the best interests of citizens.
Through the pandemic, procurement teams have used data-driven processes and insights to drive bottom-line impact. From expediting information gathering and reducing manual steps to supporting faster decision-making, technologies like eSourcing and community-aggregated templates are all helping procurement teams get critical projects off the ground faster.
Above all else, the rebel alliance is fueled by the forces of good, just like forward-thinking procurement professionals who strive to advance social good through government purchasing power. As citizens demand action to fight racial injustice and governments are being called on to advance equity and diversity in their decision-making, procurement departments are in a position to lead the way by creating a level playing field for diverse suppliers.
Equitable, inclusive spending policies can direct a larger share of the billions of dollars governments spend on procurement goods and services toward local, minority- and women-owned businesses. That, in turn, drives economic and social value and addresses disparities that have only been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis.
When dark forces threaten to take over, the Rebel Alliance mobilizes to defend against Imperial troops and protect the future of the galaxy. High-performing procurement teams are visionaries, too, when it comes to the fight against COVID-19. Focused on the big picture, they work to build innovative, future-proof approaches to serving citizens and employees.
Public agencies will face many challenges in the coming years, including cost-cutting measures and reprioritization that will test their ability to think creatively, collaborate, and integrate new technologies. In facing an uncertain world, procurement teams have hope, optimism, and confidence in the power of public services to make people’s lives better.
COVID-19 has transformed the path of procurement forever. How can procurement teams embrace and define the next normal to thrive during the pandemic and beyond? Check out our latest eBook The Rise of Procurement’s Next Normal to learn more.
Corry Flatt | Bonfire Interactive
As co-founder and CEO of Bonfire, Corry is responsible for driving Bonfire’s strategic direction while overseeing the company’s commitment to help procurement teams make the right purchasing decisions, easily. Passionate about the power of data, Corry is consistently on the lookout for how organizations can leverage insights to source smarter – not just as a function, but as a force for social good.
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