Procurement Kanban - what is it and what are its benefits for procurement?

Kanban is a work and workflow visualisation tool that helps optimise the workload. Originally it was used in manufacturing and development teams, but today it has spread to many industries from advertising to construction to procurement.

Yes, also procurement.

In this post, we take a look at procurement kanban - what it is, what are its benefits and best practices. 

“Kanban” is a Japanese word for a visual signal. Kanban board consists of columns and its main aim is to make working on both new and ongoing tasks more visual and easy to follow. A basic Kanban board can have as little as three columns: To Do, Doing and Done. 

Procurement kanban benefits

Procurement kanban board is a visual work management method designed to help streamline work processes specifically in procurement teams. For example, ProcurementFlow’s kanban board follows the Source to Pay (S2P) flow of Requisition, Sourcing, Ordering, Receiving, and Invoicing.

Procurement teams are extremely hardworking and it is important to balance their workload. Kanban gives the whole procurement team a real-life visual overview of who works on what and what is the latest status. 

Procurement leaders can divide the work among the team by workload or by category. This makes assigning work, distributing workload and sharing or transferring assignments quick and simple. 

Kanban best practices

Here are some simple guidelines to make kanban work for your procurement. 

  • Pick the right kanban tool - generic kanban tools can only get you so far. Pick an industry-specific kanban tool that matches your organisations needs. 
  • Update it regularly - after settling in, make sure all new tasks are added to kanban and progress kept up to date. 
  • Set specific rules - e.g. limiting how many tickets anyone can have “in progress”, defining when to mark a task “done”, setting up approval procedures, making general team agreements, etc. 
  • Keep an eye out for the bottlenecks - monitor people’s workloads, suppliers’ reply times, etc. It’s good to go over the procedure with the whole team regularly. This avoids needless frustration and inefficiency piling up. 
  • Adjust accordingly - learn from your experience and make changes, if necessary. Boosting your team’s productivity and finding the best procedure for you is a process. 

ProcurementFlow kanban board 

ProcurementFlow has an automated kanban board to help visualise and manage procurement workflow. Kanban board uses cards for purchasing requests and columns as procurement process stages (Requisition, Sourcing, Ordering, Receiving, Invoicing) that you can easily drag and drop. 

Procurement KANBAN
Procurement KANBAN Board

The kanban board is the foundation of the procurement team’s collaboration and keeping procurement in order. It gives you an effortless visual overview of the workflow. ProcurementFlow kanban supports both pull and push work assignments

Every update is seen on the kanban board and all changes are tracked by activity feed. For example, requests can come to the procurement team through all different sources but are funnelled into one channel. New requests appear on the board automatically. All later correspondence is also attached to the ticket. 

Every update is visible
on the kanban board and all changes are tracked by activity feed. This way no task gets lost in the email of is left unattended. The procurement team doesn’t need to act as a phone operator since all relevant parties are automatically notified when there are changes/updates linked with the assignment. By using filters, users can filter the board by project/product/supplier and get a clear status overview instantly.

All in all, the kanban visual board brings best in class transparency. Improved communication improves the company’s culture, takes down functional silos and boosts collaboration.

Setting up your procurement kanban 

Set up a kanban for your procurement in 6 simple steps. 

  1. Sign up to ProcurementFlow - we give you a 14-day free trial with no credit card information needed. 
  2. Get your account ready - set up a common email (e.g. for receiving purchase requests and direct emails to ProcurementFlow. 
  3. Invite team members - notify your team about the change, invite them to the platform. 
  4. Receive the first request - you can send a test request in yourself to the common email or wait until it’s sent or added by a requester. Read more about requisition management from here
  5. Assign the task to a team member - you can split requests if needed, bundle similar items into one RFx and assign the request based on your team’s availability or specialisation. 
  6. Update progress - ProcurementFlow’s kanban covers the entire S2P process (Requisition, Sourcing, Ordering, Receiving, Invoicing). You can set up your first eSourcing event, create collaboration channels with suppliers, and much more. 

Our aim in ProcurementFlow has always been to offer the best possible user experience in procurement and reduce the time spent on the process. Time to market is a critical parameter for business, but especially the industries that we work with. We do our best to give our customers the competitive angle of agile procurement.

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