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So you’re starting your procurement digital transformation journey…

April 14, 2021 | Bonfire Interactive

Keyboard, mouse, and headphones used for digital transformation

Deliver services more efficiently. Pivot responsively. Scale affordably. If your procurement team is embarking on a digital transformation journey, you know these are some of the top reasons you simply can’t avoid digitization any longer.

Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation is the inevitable trajectory of governments everywhere. According to Gartner projections, software and IT services will account for nearly half of the US$452 billion in worldwide government IT investments in 2021.

So where does your procurement team go from here? If you’re just getting started, this video may feel (a bit too) familiar…

 

Ready to move from Excel spreadsheets and email to fully centralized digital procurement? Here are some questions to guide you and your team as you map your journey to digital transformation.

How do you envision your team’s role in the near future?

As the pandemic tightens public sector pursestrings, resulting in layoffs and budget cuts, agencies are looking to procurement teams for guidance on how best to rethink and reprioritize spending. Over the coming years, procurement will play an even more prominent role in strategic planning and decision-making.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering what role your team will be called on to fill in the near future. What organizational goals will procurement be responsible for achieving? How do you want your team to grow, evolve, and adapt in the years ahead?

What are your sourcing objectives?

When it comes to digital transformation, investing in technology for technology’s sake is bound to fail. It’s important to set your sourcing objectives first, then choose digital solutions that support those priorities.

Considering the strategic role you’ve defined for your team, what objectives will support and fulfill that vision? Think about how and where you want to grow your team’s capacity, strengths, and strategic function within the organization.

Perhaps, like many public procurement teams, you need to improve efficiency to save your agency time and money. Or maybe you want to enhance communication and relationship-building with vendors. Defining your objectives will help you determine the best digital solutions to get you there.

How well does your current toolset support your objectives?

Before investing in any new solution, you’ll want to determine if there are opportunities to leverage or scale your existing toolset to support your priorities. Is your technology sufficient? Where are there gaps in your processes and workflows

If your current solution isn’t robust enough to achieve your strategic objectives, it’s time to explore new options. After all, it’s more beneficial to invest in technology purpose-built for the rigor of public procurement than to jerry-rig other tools or services to fit your needs (we call this patchwork procurement, and it’s a lot more trouble than it’s worth). You’ll want to consider how you can benefit from the following:

  • Using a centralized procurement platform that eliminates information silos, tightens compliance, and improves visibility into your procurement pipeline
  • Leveraging artificial intelligence and automation tools that provide faster service and reduce manual effort
  • Improving data capture and analysis to optimize your processes and performance
  • Harnessing cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for greater scalability and affordability
  • Investing in enhanced cybersecurity that keeps citizen, partner, and employee data safe

Do you have the resources to execute a forward-thinking plan?

What comes to mind when you think of the term “digital transformation?” Excruciatingly long timelines, pulling teeth to ensure buy-in, unforeseen complications as you try to migrate legacy systems? Here’s some good news—digitally transforming your procurement process doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve even heard stories of public agencies going from paper and email-based processes to fully online in a matter of weeks! That being said, ensuring you have the resources to ensure a smooth implementation and a sustainable plan for the long-haul are crucial to a successful digital transformation strategy.

First, do you have the budget? Although free bid management solutions may look appealing from a monetary perspective, they are hardly worth the legal risk or challenges for your vendors. Fortunately, public agencies now have a unique opportunity to use their American Rescue Plan funding to invest in procurement software, allowing agencies to invest in digitizing their operations even when resources are tight. 

Consider as well how you will obtain the buy-in of procurement and non-procurement users alike. As you’ve likely realized since the start of the pandemic, introducing new tools and processes often requires training, reskilling, and upskilling. That’s because building a digital infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with building a digitally fluent workforce. Even the most easy-to-use software may instigate pushback from your colleagues who are accustomed to a certain process or workflow. Investing in technical skills training or bringing new talent on board to execute your plan can help advance your digital strategy. 

The takeaway

Since the start of the pandemic, digital transformation has quickly shifted from a “nice-to-have” to an imperative in public procurement. Evolving from makeshift digital tools to sustainable ones, enabling a future of remote work, and continuing to drive value for your agency undoubtedly necessitates digital transformation. Ask the right questions and map out a results-driven plan, and your procurement team will soon reap the rewards of digital.

Ready to learn more about digital procurement in a post-pandemic world? Check out our eBook, The Rise of Procurement’s Next Normal.

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.