Software providers do a lot of ?keeping up with the Jones.? If their competition adds a feature, they do to. Then each trumpets its innovations as different (somehow) from all the others.
This follow-the-leader mindset may keep a vendor in business, but it doesn’t? really do much for its clients: The ?innovations? are not based on client input, and may not actually address the client?s specific issues.
Cap Gemini, a management consultancy, made a big effort a few years ago to create a strategic role for procurement within any enterprise.?Within that initiative?was hidden a real gem of a KPI that deserves more attention. I will grossly simplify the core findings of the twenty-page report:
?Innovation in procurement processes happens best when suppliers are involved in the project.?
We wrote recently about how procurement officers need to be fully involved in creating strategic relationships with suppliers. In this post I am turning that advice around a bit: Procurement also needs to include vendors/suppliers in its own creative initiatives to improve processes and supply-chain structures.
How does that work? At its simplest level, view your vendors (software, materials, warehousing, shipping) as sources of innovation. Ask all of your vendors how they can help you become more efficient or effective! This has two very real advantages:
- Vendors work with a wide range of clients, and can cross-pollinate great ideas.
- Once a vendor gets to know your business better, it can help you solve problems.
Vendors wish you great success, because that is the foundation of our success!
Have you drawn vendors into your creative brainstorming about how to do what you do better? How did that work out? What lessons did you learn? How would you do it differently next time?