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What Procurement Based Solutions can learn from CRM

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Sometimes technology can really shake things up. It can take a department that has operated in much the same way for decades, throw it in the air and watch as all the pieces fall in a completely different arrangement. Some pieces will even go ‘missing’ in entirety.

Some of these changes can be simple. For example, the paperless office.

It’s a simple change (the process, not the tech) that makes the world of difference and as with many technology solutions it relies heavily on economies of scale. In order for this kind of tech to be worthwhile, the company needs to be of a size to make the cost of the solution worthwhile.

One invoice, printed off in the office doesn’t cost much. But when you consider the cost of ink cartridges and how much paper you use throughout the organisation, it really does add up (that’s before time saved is considered).

Computers also have the added capability of helping to reduce human error. Never a bad thing.

In the sales and marketing and side of things, it is the difference between using excel, paper and elastic bands over the option of a CRM system.

Smaller companies will put up with the manual process early on. Yet in time they will look to implement a customer relationship management solution. The reason for this is simple and highly relevant to what we do here at HICX. In short, companies need to know the history of their relationships with customers and prospects.

The reason for this being a priority is twofold. Firstly, your marketing and sales team need to know the historical relationships, they need to know the positives and negatives. Who to avoid, who to target and where the potential for sales are.

Secondly, if a salesperson leaves, where are the records kept? And if they aren’t organised in a uniform fashion how can someone possibly take over? Taken from a marketing point of view it’s even worse. If you can’t analyse, segment and track your data and results then the imperfect science that is marketing becomes nigh on impossible. It also effects the communication between Sales and Marketing, always dangerous.

At the core of both these examples there are two main points.

  1. Data Quality
  2. Paperless/mobile

Supplier related software is behind the curve, compared to the two examples above and as such it makes for interesting times.

Surely this is an opportunity. In many ways the procurement function is lucky in that their software providers would have learnt an awful lot from the trials and tribulations of CRM, paperless offerings and even ERP. On the flipside it is a slight issue as the space could not be more crowded with vendors purporting to do anything and everything. Confusing, even for us.

That being said, this is the time to reassess your systems, to consider how vital it is to input data correctly and as with CRM, to store it safely in the cloud. Without this, nothing else works. Just as with any system. So prioritise that as a matter of course, supplier on boarding.

Lastly, try and find a provider that can work with you and provide a paperless option, removing the human error element and allowing for more mobile working.

None of the above is complicated, it is interesting though to watch as the focus shifts in procurement and savings are made in a number of different ways. Rather than simply squeezing suppliers, there are positive and creative options being explored. From working with said suppliers (for win win scenarios) to embracing the use of supplier portal software in the entire supply chain.

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