Agile Procurement: What is it and how to achieve it

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In this quickly changing world, companies need to be able to adapt to changes to reduce risk and take advantage of opportunities. The engine that drives that adaptability is agile procurement. What agile procurement is, and how to achieve it, was the topic of a recent webinar: Achieving Agile Procurement, hosted by Denali-A WNS Company and JAGGAER.

Art of Procurement founder Philip Ideson moderated the webinar, with procurement experts Alan Veeck of Denali and Brett Cornell from JAGGAER presenting their thoughts on what agility means, and how to achieve it.

“With the fast pace of change, there is a sense of unpredictability,” said Ideson. “Procurement is the one function that can bring everything together to help companies adapt.”

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

To be agile means to be able to think, understand, and move quickly and easily. To be agile, according to Cornell, procurement organizations need to have the knowledge and ability to move quickly.

“It’s about using market knowledge and business intelligence to exploit profitable opportunities,” said Cornell. He used an example of a chewing gum manufacturer that builds its promotions around raw material pricing inputs. The company’s procurement group has a deep understanding of the market, and collaborates with marketing on promotions.

Being agile means more than understanding the market, according to Cornell. “Are you making decisions (based on the information)? Are you collaborating? Are you capitalizing to gain a competitive advantage?”

By taking this approach, procurement organizations can set themselves apart and gain the trust of leadership.

How to Achieve Agility

A procurement team is agile when they exhibit certain behaviors, including being forward-thinking, collaborative, data-driven and action-oriented, said Veeck during his remarks. “You have to convince the organization you’re here to be agile,” he said. “It must be built into the fabric of how you deliver results.”

Veeck said the best way to approach agility is for procurement teams to behave like a strategic category manager. He added there are three essential functions of a category manager:

  • Know your stakeholders
  • Understand your categories
  • Deliver results

“You have to be proactive rather than reactive,” he said. “Focus on the end-user, think like a customer, eliminate as much friction as you can.” Above all, he added, be focus on delivering results at all times.

Finally, Veeck stated it was important that procurement teams look for help. “Ask for help. There are technologies and services available to help you be more agile,” he concluded. “You don’t need to go it alone.”

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