eProcurement and Supplier Relationship Management Tips


If you’re anything like most of the procurement professionals I know, you're:

  1. Incredibly busy
  2. Overwhelmed by all the advice and resources available
  3. But still wondering how to find the information you need

My friend and colleague, the brilliant Phil Ideson and I were just discussing this; about how one of the greatest values we as Content Creators can provide to busy Procurement Professionals, is access to organized, high quality information. A resources shortcut if you will.

Ideson does this every week with emails and blogs highlighting the best articles the Art of Procurement team has read recently. (Well worth subscribing to.)

With that in mind, here is the best advice we’ve seen lately on: #1. eProcurement & innovation,  #2. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), and #3. Procurement career development.

[Editor’s note: please note, while we continually promote content  from Art of Procurement, Procurious, Procurement Leaders, and Spend Matters, they neither incentivise nor reward us. We’re simply avid readers and fans of their work.]


#1. eProcurement & innovation

How to deal with a “way it’s always been done” mentality 

My favorite a piece of content this week was not an actual article, but rather a Procurious Discussion tackling a very sticky topic indeed, managing the infamous refrain: “we’ve always done it this way.”

We've all been there. You want to upgrade to a more up-to-date sourcing tool, or you're convinced supplier management software would vastly improve team productivity, but your stakeholders just won’t buy in?  Everyone in the discussion made great points and gave excellent help, including some very tactical advice on how to handle this obstinacy. But perhaps the best point was that when companies refuse to innovate, they risk obliteration.

“For certain applications, timeless and proven techniques will always have a place, such as supplier negotiation and successful frameworks for problem resolution and other social processes.

"That being said, for everything else, the majority of businesses will be wiped out if they don't abandon a fixation on status quo because the environment of the future will demand a continuous rethink of processes, people, and technology.

"That future is being written before our eyes - we have high volatility, the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, and hyper-competition. These are accelerating the rate of change in business to unprecedented levels. The key to survival and success is agility. A, ‘We've always done it this way’ attitude would be a disservice to any team preparing to be an agile player driving value into the future.”

-Chris Jablonski Director of Content & Communications at Tradeshift [emphasis added.]

See the discussion here.


Future of contingent labor

Another great read was Spend Matter’s Predictions for the Future of Contingent Labor:

“Technology will continue to become more powerful and easy to use and therefore more useful in driving effectiveness and risk management.

“Some more advanced organisations will look at using technology to support innovative approaches – running ‘internal agencies’ for instance, growing their own contingent workforce, or using the new work intermediation platforms for instance. Forward planning and scheduling of labour demand will also be increasingly automated. ‘We are looking at scenario planning and resourcing models to help predict blue-collar contingent labour requirements.’” [Emphasis added.]

Read the article here

Key takeaways for innovation and eProcurement:

  • An innovation-averse culture is extremely difficult to overcome
  • However, businesses risk becoming obsolete and bankrupt when they refuse to adapt
  • Just like artificial intelligence will change the future of sourcing, we'll also likely see an automation increase in our contingent labor management

You might also like How RFP Software Fits Into Your eProcurement Strategy.

#2. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)

How to be efficient with vendor relations

While this Diagnostic Imaging article was technically written for the healthcare industry, the SRM advice was too good not to share. Our favorite quotes [emphasis added] are below:

"’The pre-contract vendor selection process gives the practice a chance to define its expectations, and the vendor the chance to explain how it will meet those expectations,’ said Rebecca Gwilt, a healthcare attorney and consultant at Nixon Law Group, LLC in Richmond, Va."

"A physician may want to make a list of questions that reflect their minimum requirements for a vendor and submit that in advance."

“Take the time to ask for several references and make sure you understand the amount of training and support that is included in the pricing.”

"’The amount of effort a practice should expend on vetting and negotiating terms with a vendor depends on the importance of the task [being outsourced],’ said Gwilt. ‘Small practices don’t have the time to spend doing due diligence on every single vendor.’ She recommends that each outsourced task is ranked according to whether it proposes a compliance risk or has an effect on operations and revenue collections.”

“Looking for preferred traits, or on the flipside — red flags — in each vendor early on is wise and can save significant time and hassle down the road.”

"Vendor relationships cannot be set-up and ignored. We are constantly reassessing the relationship to ensure our needs are not only met, but in the most effective manner."

Full article here

Key takeaways for SRM:

  • Maximize your pre-contract phase, complete a thorough discovery 
  • Make a list of minimum requirements and use it as your primary guide
  • Ask customers (not suppliers) how much training is really needed and what it costs
  • Value your time and match vendor vetting effort according to project importance 
  • Keep an eye out for preferred traits as well as red flags
  • Prioritize SRM as an ongoing investment and evaluation process 

You might also like Secrets of Supplier Relationship Management.

Want more tips? Sign up for a free, 4-week SRM course.


#3. Procurement career development

How to Develop Your Team

Don’t get me wrong, reading is my all-time favorite hobby. But too often, I can’t find time to read all the articles and books I want to.

Which is why I'm such a big fan of podcasts. Whether you’re cooking, jogging, or commuting, you can listen to a podcast.

So if you’re looking for your next episode, check out Art of Procurement’s The Education Imperative: How to Develop Your Team Through Next Generation Learning, w/ Mark Pollack podcast.

It's especially great because it's extremely practical. While "thought leadership" is well and good, I want to be told how to do things, which is exactly what Pollack provides. Download the podcast here

Key takeaways for procurement career development:

  • Read one industry-related book per month (only takes 15-20 minutes a day)
  • Follow brilliant people on social media and read the articles they share
  • Teach what you learn
  • Both give and receive professional mentoring
  • Find an e-learning platform that can help further your goals

You might also like Why Indirect Procurement Fails to Deliver Savings to the Bottom Line: Fear


What great resources did we miss? We’d love to hear your favorites in the comments.