An Interview on Cloud-Based Procurement Software with James Meads
For the twelfth episode of Supplier Experience Live from HICX, we are joined by James Meads. James is an advisor on cloud-based procurement software solutions and an advocate for best-of-breed. Based in Bulgaria, he has aligned his business to focus on the three megatrends which will shape procurement and supply chain for the next five years: driving digitalization, improving sustainability, and reducing supply chain risk.
Cloud-based procurement software: A reliance on good data & how to get started
James explains that cloud-based technologies can deliver fantastic benefits, such as business efficiencies and driving down costs. However, they rely on good data being entered in order to produce those results.
The way bad data can be controlled or checked is by using a piece of procurement technology, such as a risk or contract management tool. In the case of bad data, a lot of spend is going to be uncategorized. He highlights the importance of making sure that “your data is in a serviceable state” in order to “get some sort of results from what you’re investing in.”
James states that this must primarily be a solution-oriented discussion rather than cost-oriented one, which is how the organization should start the process of acquiring new procurement technologies. In order to be successful, organizations must “do the homework upfront and really understand what they want to get out of it as a business.” In other words, have a strategy in place.
Why best-of-breed solutions are the future and the importance of sustainability
James is an advocate for best-of-breed solutions, as traditional ERP solutions take months, and oftentimes even years, to deliver value. On the flip side, “a best-of-breed solution is going to get you there a lot faster and it’s going to often give you pay back in weeks and months.”
He also notes this type of technology is more accessible to medium-sized organizations rather than just large corporations. “If you want cheap, fast, and good you can usually only have two out of three. With best-of-breed digital procurement solutions, you can to a certain extent, get three out of three here. So, it’s all round faster, smarter, better.”, he adds.
When it comes to sustainability initiatives, James claims that, aside from obvious environmental benefits, organizations should be aware of the benefits that initiatives such as the reduction of operating costs, waste, energy, and amount of used raw materials can bring. Brand equity plays a big role in this, “as more and more millennials and Gen Z have an influence on what is bought.”
Lessons learned from supply chain crises
On the topic of the most recent supply chain crises which caused global ramifications, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the blockage of the Suez Canal, James states it has allowed for the public to become more aware of Procurement as an industry, and the role it plays in their everyday lives.
“Supply chain risk usually comes from the fact that companies don’t really know what they’re spending and where. I say this a lot, but every company knows what they sell, not very many companies truly understand what they buy,” he adds.
James also mentions visibility of data as another important lesson. That is, that organizations have realized that they must have their supply chain and procurement data stored in a single source of truth, accessible on the cloud.