Remote work in procurement - why and how to do it

The option to work remotely is still not very common in the field of procurement. In this article, we take a look at why you should enable remote work for your procurement team and how to make it happen. 

We’re living in an era of the fourth industrial revolution. Yet our ways of life and work still largely stem from the second revolution that took place nearly 150 years ago. We’re talking about strict working times, places and ways that are more suitable for someone standing behind a production line, not a modern-day professional. Today’s work requires a lot more autonomy, responsibility, and creativity, but that often still doesn’t reflect in the structure of work. 

Why should you enable remote work for your procurement team? 

The question should rather be: “Why shouldn’t you?” In many other fields, remote work is not even a perk worth mentioning, but rather a part of basic work hygiene. People expect to be able to work from their couch or summer home or occasionally even from another time zone. Limiting employee flexibility without a valid reason can only reflect badly on the employer’s reputation. The same needs can also arise when incorporating external partners in your team or just bigger organisations that operate in different locations and time zones. 

It’s quite clear why professionals value work flexibility and often even choose it over a higher salary. The need to physically go to your place of work every day is what drives the house prices up in many areas. This leaves the employee with two bad options - either spending more time on commuting or more money on their home. Remote work can significantly improve the quality of employee’s day-to-day life. 

But there are also direct benefits for the employer as well. Contrary to the common belief that people don’t actually work unless they have a manager breathing down their necks at all times, remote work can actually boost your team’s productivity. Common office space has many distractions that you don’t have at your home. Enabling remote work also opens up the global talent pool and helps you target top professionals who don’t happen to live in the driving distance from your office. 

In the light of recent news of the COVID-19 coronavirus - maybe it’s not such a good idea to huddle together in a tight office day in and day out anyways. Even in case of a common cold, your employees should be able to resume work without the necessity to come out of their house. In case of a lockdown, they might not have any other option.

Remote work requires the right tools 

Today, there are digital tools available for any business need imaginable. Different collaboration tools like Slack, Scoro and different cloud-based document management solutions have improved the way people work in all fields of life. 

Yet most companies in procurement are still using email and Excel sheets. Even though Excel is great in principle and definitely gets the work done, it actually hinders collaboration and isn’t suitable for bigger organizations and sets of data.

In the same way that salespeople use CRM, such as Pipedrive, and software companies use Jira, procurement people need a specialised tool that brings order, simplicity, and joy to their everyday work and collaboration. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel - you can pick from a variety of digital procurement solutions that cater to different procurement needs. 

From Kodiak Rating SRM that gives access to advanced supplier and sourcing analytics, to, ahem, ProcurementFlow, that boosts collaboration both amongst the team and with other counterparts and suppliers. Finding the right tool can make your procurement flow. 

How ProcurementFlow supports remote work for your team 

Most of the remote work problems in procurement boil down to human error and inefficient processes. The key to managing your remote team is good communication and implementing well-suited digital tools. Here’s a list of criteria for choosing the right procurement tool for your remote team. 

  • Efficient communication - know who promised what and what’s the latest status at all times. ProcurementFlow collaboration feed gives you one centralised line of communication with both the suppliers and internal stakeholders and everyone is constantly notified of any relevant changes. All relevant communication is automatically pulled to the respective thread. 
  • Having an overview of your team’s work - you need to keep your team on the same page and know who is working with what. ProcurementFlow KANBAN board gives the whole team a real-life visual overview of everyone’s work. This makes assigning work, distributing workload and sharing or transferring assignments quick and simple. No task gets lost in the email of is left unattended. 
  • Easy access from anywhere - if your team is partly or fully working remotely, they need to access information from anywhere they are currently working. Cloud-based platform provides complete access no matter where you are. With ProcurementFlow, simple process steps, like sending a request, commenting and receiving status updates, can even be handled through a mobile device. 
  • The safety of your data - a lot of sensitive data runs through the hands of your procurement team every day. Keeping that information protected when your team can access it easily, is paramount. ProcurementFlow keeps your data in AWS servers that are built to satisfy the requirements of the most security-sensitive organisations.
  • Accurate and timely information - a spreadsheet-based process makes it hard to keep the information up to date at all times. An automated solution like ProcurementFlow gathers timely information in real-time, so nothing falls between the cracks. You can also retrace past communication back in time and recheck how and why decisions were made.
  • Measuring team performance - without people working hard (or hardly working) in the same office, how can you objectively measure their actual contribution? ProcurementFlow’s automated performance and analytics dashboard displays the main KPIs at all times for both the team and suppliers. You can measure and compare any team members’ activity e.g. number of PRs handled, POs processed or RFXs completed. 

READ MORE: Cheat Sheet for Procurement Managers in 2020 - 10 Actionable Steps to Level up and Streamline Your Procurement

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