I'm finding I get more and more value out of reading views from procurement colleagues. Whether it's their views on function development, stakeholder management, or longer-term strategies. To leverage value from procurement and category management, there are a lot of parallels which align with the world of bids and proposals.
Supply Management Insider features an interesting view on creating competitive advantage through procurement, written by George Rösch and the team at Jaggaer. A lot of the challenges the top procurement leaders face ring true for those heading up work winning teams too.
Martin Denham, operations director at procurement advisors Xoomworks, says: “Procurement is too often seen as a department that defines process... In the eyes of other stakeholders, it is the department that says ‘No’. Yet in reality, procurement could be, should be – and increasingly is – a powerful source of competitive advantage.”
The same can be said for underdeveloped work winning teams. How often do the bids team get seen as the gatekeeper to opportunities, the team that applies undue process when people want to just run free and bid every opportunity that comes through the door? Do the bid team create competitive advantage or just turn the wheels, pumping out proposal after proposal with little thought to long term strategy or improving the outputs they create?
If either of these questions rings true for you then chances are you're not using bids and proposals to create competitive advantage. Instead, work winning has become an administration function that doesn't get the support it deserves from the wider business.
Jaggaer identifies several concepts that bidding leaders can apply to their teams:
- Having a clear vision for your function/team's purpose.
- Developing a relentless focus on how new technology can improve your approach (but not become infatuated with technology).
- Cutting the jargon and making the bidding process 'internal stakeholder' friendly.
- Being entrepreneurial and empowering people to be as creative as possible and to spend time challenging the established models
By establishing a vision, getting buy-in from stakeholders and challenging your own approach and 'best practice', these concepts will push you to be a work winning team. They'll help to move a team from the department that says no to the department everyone wants help from. And in my experience, when people see real value in the bid team's input, it opens up all sorts of opportunities for the team to add value, create competitive advantage and broaden the offer it provides to the business.
In a global economy that is changing at warp speed, procurement has an historic opportunity to prove that it can create value for the business, not just protect it. The tools to help the function to do that job – Source to Pay software, robotic process automation, the Internet of Things, machine learning and AI – are becoming increasingly commonplace although, as is ever the case, different companies are at very different stages on the digital transformation journey. Many leaders recognise that they don’t need to be restricted by the traditional definitions of procurement as a regulation-making, rule-enforcing, process-driven function. Technology is already abolishing the boundaries between procurement and other internal stakeholders.