How Your Procurement Team Compares with Peers in 2021

How Your Procurement Team Compares with Peers in 2021

During the pandemic, procurement teams have had to deal with many changes and have been a vital part of maintaining continuity through disruption for vendors and other businesses. The demands placed on procurement have been a test of agility and the ability to adapt to change. 

Docusign surveyed more than 800 professionals from around the globe to explore the current procurement landscape researching priorities, ways of working and changes made in the last year. The study also compares the challenges faced by those that were prepared for the challenges of 2020 and those that were unprepared. The comprehensive survey results can be found in the Global Procurement Trends and Priorities report. Here’s a short overview of the key findings from UK respondents:

Controlling cost is a priority for procurement teams 

One of the top priorities for modern procurement teams is cost savings, 54% of respondents identified cost savings as their highest priority. The disruption that took place because of the COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated the urgency of cost savings for 56% of responders. An overwhelming majority of 93% of responders felt that cost savings would be of equal or higher priority in the coming five years. The pandemic brought with it many changes that could hamper cost reduction, this included a shift to remote working, disruption to existing supply chains and complex delivery and logistics. Procurement teams had the vital role of reviewing and examining contracts and relationships with external parties to respond to those changes. 

Of those that succeeded in adapting to the COVID-19 related changes, 56% said that they were able to quickly identify and shift to new tools to aid remote working, and 44% said their existing tools supported remote working. In contrast, 65% of those who felt their department was unprepared for the changes said they had a lack of tools and technology for remote working, and 53% said they had difficulty collaborating due to manual processes. Leaders that were able to adapt quickly to flexible remote working or already had technology in place were prepared for the disruption. Those that were unable to adapt to the changes were not prepared for the flexible contracting needed.

Collaboration with other teams is difficult

Teams that can simplify and streamline the contract negotiation and approval process by removing manual tasks run into fewer barriers. Procurement teams need to collaborate effectively with other departments to smoothly negotiate contracts with suppliers and make purchases to drive a business forward. The UK survey respondents cited that co-ordinating contracts internally can be a challenge. 42% said that too many manual tasks caused issues, and 39% said there was a lack of visibility and unclear responsibilities in the approval process. The legal review process and mistakes in contracts also slowed contract agreements down.

Technology helps procurement teams adapt to remote work

As COVID-19 has impacted workflows across different departments of all organisations - procurement teams have had to adapt to working remotely with external suppliers and internal colleagues. Those responsible for procurement have also had to navigate the changes and impacts on global supply chains. In addition to focusing on controlling costs, 39% of respondents said that reducing manual tasks in the procurement process is a priority. 38% of respondents said it was a priority to ensure business continuity and improve compliance, and the majority said the urgency to do this was accelerating. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations are taking action to respond to different supplier strategies and ways of working. 43% of respondents say their organisations are investing in technology, which is the most common response. Just under a third of responders said they are redesigning their current procurement workflows. The most significant difference between those organisations that felt prepared for the impact of the pandemic were related to access to technology and leaders who could make decisions quickly with support for remote workers.

A technology stack that integrates with existing systems is critical to procurement success

Only one per cent of procurement professionals think that they are currently taking advantage of more than 75% of the technological capabilities of their procurement software. There’s a range of issues that prevent procurement teams from using the software to its full extent. 31% of respondents said the software wasn’t used because of a lack of integration with other tools, and 41% noted that insufficient training is a key problem.  Leaders need to consider the entire end-to-end agreement process in the future and create a workflow full of tools and software that integrates seamlessly. 57% of respondents said that in the future, contract lifecycle management software (CLM) and electronic signature solutions would be critical to their success. 

Teams that want to remove manual processes by digitising their procurement contracts should look for a suite of agreement tools that include integrations at each vital step of the journey. The Docusign Agreement Cloud for Procurement streamlines every step in a contract’s lifecycle. It helps forward-thinking procurement teams to control costs, increase efficiency and deliver a better experience for customers and suppliers.