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Key questions to ask to prepare for your digital sourcing transformation

April 27, 2017 | Bonfire Interactive

digital sourcing transformation growth windows

The procurement landscape is undergoing a seismic technological shift.

At the core of this digital transformation is the growing importance of sourcing to the organization, new objectives for sourcing, and new technologies to reach them.

Procurement leaders are in the midst of preparing for and embracing a digital strategy for a competitive advantage within their category. Organizations that are slow to adopt new technologies are exposing themselves to the risk of falling behind their industry rivals.

Perhaps more importantly, the top sourcing teams are going beyond the technological ‘status quo.’ They are looking to the digital transformation of sourcing as a means of achieving better performance and higher strategic goals—not just for themselves, but in comparison to their competition.

Getting there can mean asking the hard questions to evaluate where you stand, and what it will take to meet tomorrow’s sourcing challenges. We’ve identified some of the key questions you need to ask when assessing your digital transformation:

Do a sourcing ‘check-up’

What are your sourcing objectives today? And how well does your technology support your team in meeting those objectives?

Your first step should be understanding where your sourcing stands today; it’s difficult to plan for your potential future technology needs without addressing the gaps that currently exist in your processes.

Take stock of how well your current resources (including technology, but also include other aspects like team structure, budgets, personnel, skill sets, etc.) match your current sourcing requirements and objectives.

Avoid the temptation to create a digital sourcing strategy that only solves today’s problems. Your digital transformation needs to also be strongly influenced by where you see your sourcing in the next five or more years.

What’s the vision for the future?

What’s your vision for the role of sourcing in the not-too-distant future? What kind of goals will sourcing be responsible for achieving? Does your vision for sourcing align and support the overall organizational strategy?

We know that sourcing is becoming an increasingly important value driver in most organizations. As your team’s role within the organization grows, procurement will feature more heavily in strategic planning and objectives.

Your digital transformation planning needs to address this growing role and your vision for the future of your sourcing team. Your technology roadmap needs to be able to address today’s sourcing needs, as well as the ones you expect to have tomorrow and beyond.

Making technology decisions is a long-term commitment – having a vision for the future is going to help you identify the technologies that will set you up for success in years to come.

What’s the plan to execute that vision?

How will you achieve your sourcing vision? What milestones or dependencies are there to meeting that vision successfully?
You’ve identified the gaps in your existing capabilities and you’ve mapped out where you believe your sourcing team is headed. With these in mind, you should start creating the plan for how you’ll get there.

It doesn’t need to be perfect, and you should assume that the details of the plan itself will evolve and change over time. As long as you have confidence in the foundation of your plan (the gaps that need to be filled, the strategic direction for the future, and so on), then your plan will help set you up for success.

Although the details may change, having measurable, realistic and time-sensitive goals is important for keeping your plan on track.

Do you have the resources you need?

Does my team have the resources (time, budget, capabilities, tools, support, etc.) to execute against my plan?

In terms of your digital sourcing strategy, the technology itself plays an important role. But you should also look at your plan holistically and look at all of the resources at your team’s disposal.

From a technology standpoint, you will need to carefully consider what platforms will empower your team to meet your objectives—today and tomorrow.

Historically, organizations would look to larger ERP or P2P suites to solve their sourcing challenges. Increasingly, the conversation around sourcing technology is becoming “we already have a P2P suite… but we need something deeper for XYZ”. The use of best-in-class software, specifically SaaS platforms with API capabilities, is increasing.

As the new wave of sourcing technology is arriving in the market, these tools can represent the most innovative and forward-looking solutions available. Today’s procurement leaders look at the kind of platforms which focus on delivering stronger value through workflow depth.

About the author

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Bonfire Interactive

Bonfire helps public procurement teams reach better sourcing outcomes through an experience that’s blazingly fast, powered by peer insights, and so easy to use—vendors love it just as much as buyers do.