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Procurement Done Remotely: Why and How to Do it

Procurement
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How a company approaches procurement is something that generally proves to be a major factor in how smoothly and successfully their projects will run. It’s an essential aspect of business and one that needs to be given a lot of attention.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, procurement is the process through which goods and services are acquired by a company. It involves sourcing potential vendors, vetting them, making a final selection, negotiating payment, and a few other steps.

It comes in a few different forms. There’s direct procurement which has to do with acquiring goods for the development of your product or service, and then there is indirect procurement which sourcing goods for internal use.

Whichever one is more essential for a specific business, the act of procurement is similar for both of them. And they are both affected by the changes that many companies have had to undergo in the last few years on account of the pandemic.

Because of COVID-19, many jobs are now being done remotely, and while the change has no doubt been a massive upheaval for people, it has also helped us to discover just how effective modern technology is in simplifying work.

There are many jobs that are arguably improved by making the switch to remote work, and procurement is no exception to that. There are a lot of good reasons to undergo this process remotely.

Let’s take a look at why and how this switch can be made:

The first thing to consider, especially if you’re unsure about this right now, is what the advantages are of adopting a remote approach to procurement. In general, the benefits are much easier to understand and make use of if you are more capable with technology.

One thing that you can expect from all remote procurement software is a single line of Communication for everyone involved. This speeds up the flow of information significantly and, in turn, will speed up the process of getting the transactions finished.

Remote procurement will also allow for data to be accessed from anywhere. Digital Transformation has changed the way we use data in a huge way, and it has opened up the possibility of using big data.

Digital Competency

If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it simply refers to datasets that are too big for traditional data storage software. Procurement processes will generate an awful lot of data and under previous methods, it was difficult to keep on top of it all.

That’s not such a problem under remote usage. And then there’s also security to think about here. Advancements in digital technology have led to the development of some very strong cybersecurity systems which can give you assurances on the safety of your data.

So let’s take a look at how remote procurement works and a few things to keep in mind:

2. Software

Kissflow-Purchase-Requests

You’ll need to get a specific procurement software if you want to get the full benefit. Because this is getting more and more popular there are a number of different software available for you to try.

You’ve got Procurify, Kissflow, Planergy, and several other good choices. When making the selection on what the best one for you is, you need to keep a number of different factors in mind.

The best software will give you centralized data management. As we discussed above, this will be a system which ensures that all of your data is stored in a single set and is easy for everybody to access from wherever they are.

You should also ensure that there is an artificial intelligence component to the software that you pick. Effective AI can help to streamline the process by cutting out a lot of work normally done by employees.

Things like vetting service providers to narrow down the selection and scouring through the list of potential vendors for ones that offer the exact service which you’re after can be transferred to AI to simplify the process and good software will have that capability.

It would be worth looking into a Field Service Management software such as Field Promax too. This software offers you a wide range of features that would benefit your procurement venture such as scheduling, time tracking, and invoicing, all conducted through an efficient mobile app.

Services like these are essential for getting the best results from your team so you should definitely check them out.

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3. Transitioning Your Team

Introducing any change to the way a Company operates is always going to necessitate a certain amount of policy change too. It’s just a natural part of a company’s evolution and if you don’t make said policy changes early it can cause problems in the future.

Said policy changes might include redefining the timeline you would usually afford to your procurement team to accommodate the faster turnaround time made possible by the remote work.

You might also want to offer a greater opportunity for communication and for people to voice concerns about their work, especially in the early stages when the team is still transitioning to a big change.

And then you have to think about training. While you might have some employees who are more than capable of adapting to new technology, there are some who might not be quite so technologically literate.

You should probably expect employees not to be too overjoyed at the prospect of further training, but it’s important to make sure that they participate in it anyway. Organize a company-wide meeting in which you make the benefits of the change clear to everyone.

And then of course you also have to communicate with your clients and investors so that they are familiar with a change in your business model too.

4. Be Environmentally Conscious

Environmentally

When conducting procurement remotely, it can be very difficult to keep track of carbon emissions. The fact is that because there is so much transportation involved in procurement, there is the potential for a lot of emissions.

It’s more important now than ever before to be mindful of this. Dramatic reductions need to be made in the usage of fossil fuels on a global scale, and companies that have a significant transportation component can do their part.

Think about Carbon Capture & Storage, or CCS for short, which is an innovative new approach to mitigate carbon emissions while still using fossil fuels. It’s mainly in use within the oil and gas sector by companies such as Vista Projects.

It’s this line of thinking that needs to be applied to procurement too. Investing in a system that will monitor your emissions through analysis of economic input and output will be the first step because that will clarify your business’s current emissions.

Then you need to find a system of reducing it that works. This may involve altering your strategy to minimize transportation to some degree or something that will control the level of carbon in your fuel such as the aforementioned CSS process.

5. Aim for Automation

cost-effective

As big of an alteration to the process as remote procurement is, it’s not the end game. Not even close. Technology is advancing faster and faster every year and automation is a huge part of that.

Many jobs have already been taken over by automation and more will be in the not too distant future. While this seems like a scary concept in a way, it’s also something that can make an industry more efficient and more cost-effective.

And so in adapting your business to move towards remote procurement, you should also work with a full-scale change to automation in mind. Prepare your team for that and any changes that can be made to facilitate that advancement should be considered.

There’s no question that this will be a major shift for this particular sector of a business, and that the initial software changes and training will be expensive at first. But it will ultimately save you money and time in the long run, so remote procurement is unquestionably the right choice.

Author: Andy Schmidt

Andy has been in the online content world for over 10 years as a freelance copywriter, technical writer, and translator, covering different topics – finance, energy, and also sustainability. What is he doing when not writing? Andy learned how to enjoy long walks, play chess, and finally – how to sleep at night.