5 steps to an efficient procurement strategy

Procurement

A sound procurement strategy ensures a company stays profitable by getting the most return on its resources. Here’s how to implement an action plan.

Written by

Taylor Bruneaux

Published on

September 30, 2022

October 26, 2022

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Many moving parts come together to form a procurement strategy that upholds profitability. According to a recent Deloitte survey, reducing costs is top of mind for 76 percent of chief operating officers

Accordingly, it’s critical that procurement teams get clear on their objectives, how they can lower operational costs, and what new, low-cost initiatives to execute to consistently hit KPIs. 

Below, we go through the ins and outs of procurement, what it takes to create and apply a strategy, and how to ensure it’s contributing to your business’ bottom line. 

What is procurement?

Procurement is the process of purchasing goods and services, including software, necessary to run company operations. It’s also the practice of effectively managing resources to ensure a company gets the most value for its spending strategy. 

What are the goals of strategic procurement?

There are many business goals under the procurement umbrella that ultimately lead to the same result: cost savings. Procurement initiatives like risk management, optimizing budget allocation, streamlining supply chain timelines, and even running different types of spend analysis are all strategies to keep a company lean yet competitive. 

Additional procurement goals include:

  • Sourcing suppliers to build cost-effective relationships
  • Procuring higher quality goods at competitive price points
  • Selectively managing deals to get the most value for money
  • Ensuring cost-effective supplier relationships that uphold company terms

What does strategic procurement include?

Strategic procurement can include many business motions designed to keep company spending low while increasing value. 

Three of the most important overarching categories in a sound procurement strategy are cost reduction, risk management, and quality control.

Cost reduction: Motions like vendor development, supplier optimization, global sourcing, tail spend analysis, and determining contract ROI are all direct efforts to reduce company costs. 

Risk management: Risk reduction strategies like supplier optimization, supply chain management, green purchasing, and product lifecycle forecasting are procurement strategies designed to mitigate risk and streamline operations with the fewest errors or setbacks possible. 

Quality control: Supplier risk scorecards, KPIs and metrics, and supplier compliance audits are built to handle quality control. Quality control processes are necessary for companies to ensure goods and services are delivered according to purchase order terms and procurement policies.

Every business is tasked with designing a procurement strategy that considers its objectives and methodologies. With the help of software, businesses can ensure smoother procurement workflows, access permission configurations, and centralize key purchasing and vendor data to make meeting desired goals easier.  

Vendr can help build the SaaS procurement process you’ve always dreamed of. Learn more.                

Procurement strategy framework

Establishing a procurement strategy requires planning and documenting before it can effectively be enforced. This way, procurement teams have clear guidelines to inform decision-making, determine how best to deal with vendors, and ensure best practices are applied. 

A general procurement strategy framework is made up of— 

  • Clear benchmarks: How will procurement initiatives align with the company’s business goals? How will you gather first- or third-party data to ensure relevant market rates inform those benchmarks? 
  • Procurement plans of action: How will your business create a procurement process that meets key business goals? 
  • Goal results: What cost savings, risk reduction, and quality control metrics should the procurement plan aim for? 
  • Expected timeframes: When do you expect to reach procurement objectives?
  • Procurement implementation roadmaps: What are the specific steps needed to establish an ongoing procurement process? 
  • A list of key performance indicators: What KPIs will the company use to measure its results? What spend analyses will the business perform to refine its strategy? 
  • A list of procurement tools necessary for the job: What procurement tools—whether software or hardware—are necessary to implement a company-wide procurement strategy that’s trackable, centralized, and highly automated? 
Optimize your vendor processes with Vendr’s Ultimate SaaS Buying Guide.

Example of an effective procurement strategy

MixPanel, a business analytics service company, established a procurement strategy that allowed them visibility into resource allocation so it could streamline its purchasing workflow. Their goals were to spend less time negotiating SaaS contracts, to shorten their procurement cycle, and to reduce unnecessary payments.

With their strategy, they quickened the SaaS acquisition process, stopped duplicate spending and overpayments, and shortened their process timeline by 75 percent. By implementing a procurement strategy, MixPanel’s procurement process went from three months to three weeks. 

Check out the video below to learn more about MixPanel’s procurement journey. 

Steps to an efficient procurement process

If you’re creating your first procurement strategy, follow these steps:

Outline a procurement strategy

Begin by drafting a procurement strategy statement from the ground up. Consider outlining benchmarks, procurement practices, business objectives, tools you’ll need, and your action plan to meet and possibly even exceed your procurement goals. 

Outlining a procurement strategy may take weeks or months. Involving key company stakeholders ensures you’re covering your bases and getting visibility into the needs of each company department. 

Integrate procurement software

Today’s data-driven world requires speed, automation, and ease of use. Thankfully, there’s plenty of procurement software built to help companies create, enforce, and run their procurement strategy. 

Without a digital procurement solution, companies run the risk of committing costly human errors, losing track of who owns which procurement initiatives, and having a harder time analyzing data to draw valuable insights.

Procurement software accelerates the SaaS procurement process from beginning to end. If you're buying or renewing software, a service and platform like Vendr can share valuable insights to make this process easier. 

Procurement software will allow you to:

  • Get a high-level view of all spending on apps across your business
  • Coordinate stakeholders with supplier purchase history 
  • Customize the storage and tracking of key data points within its dashboard
  • Streamline purchasing processes to increase team productivity

As you vet procurement software, it's critical to ensure it can scale with your company and that it’s customizable enough to mold to your existing procurement policy and its workflows. 

Gather data

What’s your company’s current spend culture? Is there a lot of maverick spending procurement teams aren’t managing? Can you get third-party data to conduct market analyses? 

Knowing where you currently stand is necessary to improve your current procurement numbers. Data sprawl can quickly get out of control and become siloed without any efforts to centralize it. Without relevant purchasing data, it becomes harder to implement a procurement strategy that’ll lower spend, account for maverick spending, and uncover spend leakage and overspending. 

Running a comprehensive operational data analysis requires gathering, organizing, and categorizing data in one platform. This takes gathering spending data from internal stakeholders, like managerial leadership, and external parties, like vendors. Centralizing data ensures accuracy and visibility, and it enables businesses to arrange and track historical data as it is added. 

Set clear procurement objectives

With a data-driven procurement strategy at the helm, determining clear business objectives becomes easier. 

Here are a few examples of procurement objectives: 

  • Cut the cost of manufacturing goods by refining your supply chain strategy
  • Enable cost-control across departments with access to intake forms
  • Implement additional process automation
  • Optimize supplier ROI to increase it by 3% within the next year
  • Forge new vendor relationships in Q4 that generate an additional 10% return
  • Negotiate better price points
  • Lower supply chain risk
  • Refine current purchasing strategy
  • Accelerate the purchasing process of goods and services by at least 25%

Use relevant spend analyses to make data-driven decisions

Data-driven decision-making requires data and analytics tools that add visibility into a company’s spending patterns. Along with different types of spend analysis, procurement teams can use data to accurately determine how well their efforts are paying off. 

As you make decisions about vendor relationships, contract management, total cost of ownership (TCO), or even maverick spending, use different types of data analyses that provide relevant insights.

These analyses can include:

Contract spend analysis: Contract spend analysis draws insights from more granular data like individual item purchases. Once purchases are matched with corresponding departments, it’s easier for procurement teams to point out recurring purchases, maverick spending, or overspending patterns. 

Payment terms spend analysis: This analysis helps teams use data to pinpoint vendor discounts that aren’t being used. For example, an internal invoice management system that automates payment processes and quickens transactions can be leveraged to lower expenses via early payment discounts.  

Tail spend analysis: Tail spend is notorious for being an area where companies tend to overspend. A tail spend analysis looks at smaller purchases, like office supplies, to see where additional costs can be cut. Tail spend analyses enable procurement teams to manage spend leakage and control spending patterns with updated company policies.

Category spend analysis: One effective way to control overspending is to run a category analysis. Category analyses give teams insight on which categories use the majority of resources, which categories to consolidate, and where to improve sourcing strategies to uncover new savings opportunities. 

Supplier spend analysis: Analyzing supplier transactions is critical to improving vendor relationships. When teams create a list of their top supplier contracts based on their cost-effectiveness, the data can point them to supplier relationships that need special attention or a better negotiation strategy. 

How Vendr can help you build and execute your procurement strategy

Working closely with your finance, procurement, or IT teams, Vendr is a connected source of truth that companies can leverage to reach their business objectives. Vendr works closely with your team to create or optimize your ideal purchasing process so finance leaders can be in the loop on every dollar spent and get the fairest price available.

With Vendr, every step of the buying experience is tracked and accounted for. Once integrated with your existing system, Vendr ports in data from all connected sources so teams have one unified view of key SaaS buying and management data. 

Learn how much you could save on SaaS with Vendr’s free savings analysis.

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