An Interview on Investments in Procurement Technology with Iain Campbell McKenna
For this episode of Supplier Experience Live podcast by HICX, we welcomed Iain Campbell McKenna. Iain a Managing Director at Sourcing Solved, an executive search consultancy company, where he works with clients to help them successfully optimize outcomes of their investments in procurement, technology and through areas such as innovative change management strategies, including advanced hiring practices. He is also a host of the Procurement in 5-Minutes, a podcast aiming to solve some of the biggest challenges within Procurement in only 5 minutes.
The gap between digital promise and digital realization
On the topic of digital transformation, Iain states a mistake he sees a lot of companies making is having the perception of transformation as in IT-led project, whereas instead they should be viewing it as people-led. He cites a few studies which revealed more than 70% of transformation projects fail. “Why is that? Well, that’s mostly due to the teams not really been open to change and traditional capabilities, such as research, strategy, project and change management. They are, really, still required in any digital transformation programme to be successful.”
Iain claims the project starts with getting the people on board with the changes, followed by deciding on processes to adopt, implementing them, and finally, choosing and embracing the new technology. What he and his team do when embarking on such project is 3As:
- Assess the current procurement team, their skills and capabilities
- Align their existing skill sets with overall business strategic objectives
- Acquire new talent by assessing and addressing the gaps
Change management strategies and Procurement in 5-Minutes
Similarly to digital transformation, Iain also states change management starts with getting people on board as they are the ones who will be working in a different way. “I hate to say it but there are organizations where there are people in the team who don’t want to embrace change and you can do as much as you possibly can to help them move forward into the new digital era, but some people just don’t want to and they’re happy doing the things that they’ve always done. Change is scary to them,” he adds.
On why he started the Procurement in 5-Minutes podcast, Iain says he listened to various podcasts for which he believed could have gotten to the point in 5-10 minutes. “I wanted to set up a podcast up but really scratched beyond the veneer and really addressed that the pain points that procurement are facing on a daily basis,” he states. Iain hopes the wide-ranging topics covered will help procurement professionals with the issues and problems they are facing.
Procurement of the future
Regarding the future of Procurement as a function and as an industry to get involved in, Iain is certain that artificial intelligence (AI) will get more and more adopted which will see a rise in the need for technical skills. At the same time, soft skills will also be sought after to compensate for the lack of the human touch AI cannot replace. “I think AI is a great thing but AI doesn’t know what it’s like to be human, and that’s something that us procurement professionals have got in our favor,” he concludes.
As the most innovative practice in procurement, Iain cites automation. Although it may seem simple, it simplifies mundane tasks such as contract sorting, which can now be done digitally. As a result, professionals are able to use the saved time to pursue more valuable endeavors.