Better Supply Chain Management Starts With E-procurement
Supply chain management involves walking a budgetary tightrope. Procurement must strike a balance between equipping employees with the software and devices they need while funding IT maintenance and innovation — all while keeping the IT budget in the black.
So when business leaders ask me for advice about optimizing business, I often tell them to start with their IT procurement process. Why? Because you don’t need to purchase less — you just need to purchase smarter.
For more than 10 years, I’ve been entrenched in financial planning, cost reduction and process improvement. And as a business leader, I view technology through the lens of optimization. In 2018, I’m placing a lot of focus on leveraging automation to achieve that.
How can we use automation to streamline processes and reduce costs? How can technology remove the busy work and help people do their jobs more efficiently so they can focus on higher-value tasks?
Streamlining the procurement process
A great example of this occurred with an international hotel chain, a longtime client of Insight. We’ve worked with them on a number of technology projects, but when they told us their second largest hotel in the world required 12 people to handle the procurement for just that one location, I shook my head in disbelief.
The reason? They were still using legacy procurement models, creating hours of tedious, manual tasks for their employees.
This was problematic on several levels. Besides burying employees in busy work — the thought of which hurts me at my core — the manual tasks left too much room for errors. They also created complicated spend reporting with limited visibility and slowed delivery time from request to deployment.
Because of our tenured partnership with the hotel chain, they put a lot of trust in us to help them transform their traditional process into an e-commerce experience on insight.com for both hardware and software procurement.
This helped them achieve four key wins:
- The e-commerce platform replaced their manual, lengthy approval process for purchases with a streamlined, automated approval process.
- Together, we created custom catalogs to enforce standardization across all properties — even those with different brand and technology requirements.
- With custom catalogs in place, individual property buyers are now empowered to go to one centralized platform, quickly see their brand-based standards and then go through an automatic approval workflow to make purchases quickly and efficiently — without going rogue.
- The data captured on their insight.com account spans all properties and buyers, creating a very detailed and complete picture of the hotel chain’s IT spend with customized reporting the way leaders need it.
Those 12 people who had previously been bogged down by manually intensive tasks for procuring technology are now able to focus on bigger, higher-value projects for the company.
E-commerce: The key to optimization
But the e-commerce procurement process is much more than buying products. The automation that comes through e-commerce can ripple through the many layers of an organization to provide holistic optimization.
The efficiencies the hotel chain realized from the e-commerce platform were just the tip of the iceberg. Moving to an e-procurement process with a single vendor also helped optimize configuration and deployment.
The hotel chain’s entire IT infrastructure is running through Insight — and automation is the backbone of our relationship. They rely on us for server workstation configuration, network gear switches, routers and standard asset tagging.
For example, devices are asset-tagged and run through their insight.com account, which automatically notifies the hotel the day an item ships. This way they know in advance what assets are headed to which location so they can proactively add them to their database.
Automation and e-procurement are essential tools to optimize operations and control budget. And nothing thrills me more than to see employees freed from busy work and able to apply their unique skills in a higher-value capacity — helping the business thrive.