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Transforming a Procurement Team’s Value Proposition

REV It Up: A Procurement Podcast Series with Procurious

In this blog series, powered by Procurious, Philip Ideson sits down with speakers from JAGGAER’s REV2018 conference to discuss the latest trends in procurement and what the future holds.

A conversation with Sandy Hicks

Establishing Core Values

Q: What are the core values of your procurement team?

We’ve established five core values for our team, which are customer service, collaboration, value creation, innovation, and expertise.

Q: How did you decide that those five were what you wanted your team to stand for?

Customer service is really at the core of what we do for the University of Colorado. We are the procurement service center. Everything we do both for our internal customers and our suppliers requires providing good customer service.

The innovation – we’re very much driven by technology. We have two different systems that we use. One is procure-to-pay and the other is the travel and expense system. We’re looked upon to have the best technology available to provide customers the service they need to do the jobs they’re hired for.

Collaboration is key to the customer service. We should be collaborating with our faculty and staff so that they can do their research without worrying about the procurement function.

As far as expertise goes, we want to be looked on as the procurement experts for the university. We stay on our game as far as knowing what the latest technology is and any kind of policies that we should be updating to make business easier for our customers.

Seeing and Measuring Success

Q: What does success look like for you when you look against those values and how do you measure it?

We do three surveys every year measuring the marketplace, our travel and expense system and customer satisfaction. We measure numbers and we take free-form comments.

Both of our systems are software is a service, so they’re continuing to innovate. We bring that functionality back to CU and we want to know, “What’s your satisfaction with the changes you’ve seen in the past year?”

Q: How do you encourage stakeholders to actually respond?

We encourage people to respond by reporting back what we found and what actions we’re going to take. Rather than offering Starbucks cards, we want to put our money where our mouth is and tell them, “Hey, we listened. Here’s what we heard.”

Strengthening Stakeholder Relationships

Q: How did you find that some of the stakeholders have responded when you have the Marketplace in place and with catalogs?

We had a very robust procurement card program before we brought up the Marketplace. They were already out there buying; they just were buying without parameters.

Now, for small dollar purchases, you place your order, the invoice comes in and it matches, and you don’t have to touch it again. With a procurement card you still had to go in and reconcile.

The other half of the transformation is all of the data that’s now available. I had one of our CFOs tell me that she views her quarterly report as important as their budget report and their financial report. Now they’re pushing us to give them more technology within their spend analytics.

Q: Could you share some of the initiatives that you take to strengthen the value of the relationships both with your stakeholders but also your suppliers as well.

With our customers, we have a very outward-facing strategy to go visit them. Probably seven months out of the year we have formal events out on the campuses, from supplier showcases to town hall meetings. We also have what we call a No Agenda Forum. We take people from each of our areas and make them available for a couple of hours out on each campus. If you have a question, you can come meet and talk about whatever you want.

Q: What happens in those meetings? What kind of questions do you get?

It really runs the gamut between people that have been around a while and just had a question to a new person who hits every table we have and asks all kinds of questions.

We’re always thinking about what we could add that would be valuable for our customers. Last year we brought in TSA and made them available for people to register for TSA pre-check. Both times it filled up the day after we announced it.

Finding the Right Procurement Professionals

Q: When you look at procurement professionals and high potential procurement professionals, what do you look for?

I would say we’re looking for people that can really foster and maintain relationships. We can teach procurement. It’s being able to go in and talk to the dean of the department and not be intimidated by that. I think that’s really the key thing that we’re looking for.

Bio

Sandy Hicks is the Associate Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at The University of Colorado. She also leads the Procurement Service Center and oversees procurement and payables, totaling over one billion dollars in annual spend.

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