Automated procurement technology growing in priority

Posted on 3 Aug 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Procurement managers from manufacturing companies across Europe, the UK and the US have identified the benefits and growing significance of procurement automation technology.

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Automated procurement allows workers to spend less time on analytics and transactional tasks, and more time on managing the supplier.

Implementing automated procurement processes is apparently a high priority for nearly half (47%) of  senior procurement officers, according to new research conducted by ProcureCon Europe and WBR Digital.

Modern procurement technology is on the radar of almost the same amount (48%), with only 5% describing it as not being a priority currently.

The study also highlighted how securing the necessary budget to invest in procurement technology can be challenging, although this was mitigated by the 39% of respondents who could clearly demonstrate the potential ROI to stakeholders.

The study shows that leaders in procurement are already be using technologies such as predictive analytics (81%), marketplace recommendations – such as those found on Amazon (73%), automation rules or ‘robotic process automation’ for ordering (65%), or voice-activated procurement (50%).

Gordon Tytler, director of purchasing for Rolls-Royce explained: “Automating procurement processes is a key priority for us right now. The opportunity through automation to shift the balance of how we are using our resources is significant.

“It potentially enables us to spend less time in the transactional/operational space and more time working with suppliers to leverage additional benefit from their capabilities.”

Almost all of those surveyed (90%) said they are now using automated supply management systems for spend analysis in terms of compiling, classifying and cleaning supplier spend information. Automated systems are also now widely being used for contract supplier management and eProcurement, cited by 83%.

A current focus for Rolls-Royce is its ‘indirect procurement, according to Tytler, which sees the business implementing a cloud based end-to-end process solution.

He added: “It’s not just for the procurement element of the process though, it begins at the business authorisation through to the payment process and it’s all very much linked together globally to make sure that it is as efficient as possible.

“The benefits are primarily generated from freeing up our people to spend less time on analytics and transactional tasks, and more time on managing the supplier. Developing both their performance and the innovative opportunities they can bring to us. It’s very much focused on driving overall business value.”

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