In its journey of maturity, procurement has gone through dramatic changes, evolving from a tactical function to a digitalized, strategic process.
Superhero Software Doesn’t Need to Be so Hard
The motion picture of the moment, as this is written, is “Batman Vs Superman”. As a premise it seems a bit flawed, a man in a suit against a genuinely superhuman force. On the face of it, there is no contest.
Discussing who would have the upper hand in various grudge-matches is a common enough game. “Alien vs Predator” is a more evenly balanced coming-together, perhaps, but as to who would win a fight between a bear and a shark? Surely that answer depends on who gets to fight in their home territory!
In any case, this month’s big release has been roundly declared a big flop, a turkey, a candidate for at least one Razzie come next January. Or at least that was the critical reception.
The reality, however, is far less black and white. A few days after opening and the box office reports suggest Batman vs Superman is on-target for clearing half a billion dollars in its first week. By what system of evaluation is this movie to be considered a flop? A critical panning might hurt a few feelings but when the sole purpose of a superhero movie is actually to deliver return on investment, any chagrin on the part of the creators will probably be relatively short-lived, for millions of reasons.
Arguing the toss over the artistic merit of a blockbuster superhero movie is largely as meaningless as debating the central premise of Batman vs Superman. Artistic merit is not what it’s for.
That is not to say that motion pictures should not strive for artistic merit and critical acclaim; however, to do so at the cost of ROI is fundamentally unsustainable. After all, the very best of the best movies deliver on all fronts.
In Procurement, and in business in general, we might justifiably draw the parallel between artistic integrity (and critical success) and procurement excellence.
The pursuit of excellence in procurement is a stated aim of many enterprises, and rightly so. But it is in the definition of excellence that we might run the risk of getting bogged down.
Procurement software is now universally accepted as an essential element in a programme of procurement excellence and choosing the right procurement software for your company is a critical step on that path to success. But software is insufficient in itself. It might have everything you need in terms of function and feature, it might tick all the boxes and achieve critical acclaim with your stakeholders but what matters are the results.
In the pursuit of robotic process automation – this year’s buzz-phrase in procurement excellence circles – there is a risk of building a hugely complex and sophisticated system integrating all your legacy tools to great applause, but not ending up with something that helps you drive as much value as you need into the business.
Sometimes what is needed is a crowd pleaser. Something new and bold and popular that everyone can engage with and that delivers the results quickly. Procurement Excellence must be about results first and about methodologies second. Getting both right is where the excellence lies.
In the end, the critics can say what they like, but one thing they can’t argue with is ROI!
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Strategic sourcing has been the go-to approach for transforming procurement from a tactical to a strategic function, capable of delivering the kind