By AMBAC International

Being more productive in procurement is not some hard-lined secret, nor is it a puzzle with only one solution. Productivity manifests with many different strategies, many of which are overlooked due to the influx of various demands on procurement professionals and limited time.

How do you achieve optimal productivity while maintaining your key operations and without losing the lifeblood of your business? How do you procure business and build relationships while keeping that necessary human element? Below are six tips to making it happen.

Narrow Your Focus On What Matters

A hawk has a wide view of everything below him from the sky. Yet he manages to comb the surroundings and isolate one tiny little mouse in a sea of potential obstacles. Productivity means narrowing down what works, focusing it down and making it happen.  

This laser-focus is paramount in procurement because it helps you avoid juggling many tasks and getting very little to nothing done, while focusing on what’s most important and prioritizing it really allows you to enhance productivity.

Perhaps you are too tied up in time consuming operational tasks and need to be spending more of your time on sourcing, researching suppliers, or networking. Figure out your most profitable tasks and spend most of your effort on those. Delegate the small things.

Communicate Transparency

On every procurement team, there is a balance between keeping certain types of information protected for various reasons, and letting everyone know all the factors that can impact performance and future growth.

However, too many teams lean towards being secretive. They are not transparent where it matters, leaving team members needlessly in the dark and confused, even about their own performance sometimes. This frequently causes more problems in terms of efficiency and improvement, compared to the information or feelings that it might protect.

Open up about troubles and establish a culture of communication. Embrace possible solutions from all directions. Remain honest and clear about future goals and achieved milestones. Host open and honest performance reviews for every team member.

It’s a good idea to hold meetings on a weekly basis so that team members can bring up any particular concerns. Performance reviews are also very helpful on a semi-regular basis so your team knows what they are doing good and areas they can improve upon.

This is the most effective way to create an environment where everyone seems part of something bigger, where problems are discussed frankly, and where team members have incentive to constantly push themselves to be at their best.

Expand Globally

Thinking in terms of the global economy is often overlooked in procurement when you have established a comfort zone in a particular region. Some of the best deals out there are in areas you may not have explored yet.

Expanding your global supply chain can offer far more options in terms of pricing and products. There may be some disadvantages in terms of supply efficiency or shipping speed, and those will need to be weighed against any potential savings or new products.

Obviously, this strategy won’t always work for every procurement department, but when the possibility is there, it is well worth exploring. So, when appropriate, think globally to keep the business growing.

Analyze and Allocate Your Data Properly

Procurement involves a lot of data, but this information isn’t worth a whole lot if you don’t have the tools to analyze it and utilize it. Efficient procurement relies on putting the right data points in the right toolbox. This is known as information allocation, and when properly done, it ensures the right “what” goes to the right “who.”

The right data can help find specific answers to common procurement problems: is this region or supplier worth targeting in order to save on our costs? Is this purchase order necessary?

Can we scale nationally or internationally, and do we have the customers and the resources to do it? Make sure you have the analytical capabilities to manage and turn your large volume of data into a real asset.

Rely on Technology to Scale

When your process is largely “figured out,” perhaps it is time to automate it. Valuable tools and programs can help ease your company into higher levels of automation, which becomes increasingly valuable as a business scales.

The latest automation technology in procurement is feature-rich, time saving and can completely change your productivity forever. Consider an automated lifecycle management platform to handle faster replies and signatures, streamlined negotiations, reports, expense management, compliance reminders, and more.

Think about moving your document management to the cloud to handle a national or international supply chain much more efficiently and with more accessibility.

So many viable procurement tool options are available that can really improve your productivity significantly once implemented. Meet with your team, do some research on the top tools and narrow down what will work best for your firm.

Build Your Network

You can’t do all the work on your own. You will eventually have to rely on someone to do some of the heavy lifting or to bring in another departmental area. Establishing a strong and growing internal and external network, in the form of key stakeholders, suppliers, department leaders, and outside entities, will become valuable.

They give you tools to work, collaborate, and flourish. Input from department leaders can help improve a strategy. Collaborations with key stakeholders help keep the big picture in mind. Strengthening supplier relations eases future negotiations and increases the chances for better deals or first access to innovative new products.

Procurement is built on collaboration and trust, and building your efficiency with it requires a strong, well established network. You can avoid starting from scratch with every contract if you manage to build a helpful network covering multiple areas.

Your productivity is dependent on you. Though there are things you cannot control, the above stresses so much that you can improve upon right now to rapidly expand your productivity in procurement.