1 Hot topics, Perspectives, and Debates - Trending in Procurement brings you the trends and analysis for your Procurement needs. PROCUREMENT TOOLS & COLLABORATIVE FEATURES The success of the Procurement departments of large international companies depends greatly on their ability to enable parties located in different geographical locations and at different hierarchical levels to work together. The collaborative features of e-procurement tools are veritable assets for Procurement departments in helping them create a collaborative culture. Fostering communication and information sharing, the purpose of these features is to improve team productivity and performance as well as facilitate innovation. Gérard Dahan, EMEA Managing Director, Ivalua
2 In this era of Web 3.0 and the extended enterprise, large international groups are organised to foster communication and collaboration within often decentralised and geographically-dispersed organisations, with the aim of improving team performance. Social media, Enterprise Social Network (ESN), Extranet, web-conferencing, international meetings these are all tools that companies rely upon to circulate information. The result is to enable effective teamwork between employees and further beyond, effective collaboration with partners, suppliers, etc. Procurement departments, at the core of the buyer / specifier / supplier relationship, are responsible for orchestrating this relationship and hence have a crucial role to play in creating an efficient collaborative culture, with a view to creating value. Procurement departments have naturally adopted the collaborative tools made available to them by their companies and vendors of e-procurement solutions. Workflows, forums, document and information sharing are the collaborative features most often proposed by vendors. But which needs do e-procurement collaborative features meet exactly? What are the expectations of Procurement departments in terms of collaborative tools? What are the obstacles that stand in the way of adopting these tools? Trending in Procurement has put these questions to the procurement community to get answers and take stock of how collaborative features are used by Procurement departments.
3 Which needs are met by the collaborative features of e- Procurement tools? Collaborative features are still widely considered as internal communication tools. Most procurement professionals believe that the collaborative features of e-procurement tools meet the internal communications needs of their departments: to communicate best practices to buyers (71%) and share supplier information internally (54%). Likewise within the company, collaborative features meet a need for communicating with other company departments (63%). Removing walls is therefore the first challenge faced by the collaborative features of e- Procurement platforms. This de-compartmentalisation means sharing information between buyers (i.e. supplier scores) and beyond this, sharing information with other departments involved in the procurement process within a company. According to the panel, these collaborative features are a vector for improving procurement team performance by sharing information and particularly best practices between buyers.
4 Which features of e-procurement tools are most important in creating a collaborative culture? Standard collaborative tools cover four main areas: document management, knowledge management, project management and social relations management. According to the panel, e-procurement tool features considered important for creating a collaborative culture are a combination of the standard features available in collaborative tools: document sharing and specific procurement features, forums, workflows and validation circuits (i.e. procurement requests). The procurement community sees the collaborative dimension of their e-procurement tools as a solution able to integrate joint collaborative features and features specific to Procurement.
5 What gains are associated with collaborative features of e-procurement tools? The collaborative features of e-procurement tools mostly enable gains in team performance. Seventy percent (70%) of respondents feel that e-procurement tools help to centralise information, 63% consider that they improve the quality of information and 55% that they help to break down walls within the company, therefore promoting internal communication. The collaborative space within e-procurement tools helps Procurement departments of large international groups to overcome geographical distances that separate the various parties involved in the procurement cycle and to therefore implement a more open and collaborative procurement organisation. Thanks to the collaborative features of e-procurement tools, Procurement departments have quality information, centralised in one single place, and access to a communications platform enabling them to effectively play their role of orchestra conductor for the buyer / specifier / supplier relationship.
6 If you had the choice, what type of social media would you want your Procurement collaborative space to look like? Procurement departments want collaborative features to be opened up to parties outside of the company (suppliers in particular), to more innovation and to buyers from different companies, along with a supplier performance assessment capability. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the panel would like the collaborative dimension of their e-procurement solution to look like the platform, a web platform which allows users to (among other things) post needs for innovation or improvement (crowd sourcing or open innovation) and to select those suppliers interested in and relevant to the project. Fifty-five percent (55%) of respondents would like their collaborative space to resemble in order to evaluate, comment upon and share their supplier experiences with buyers outside of their company. Less than 50% of respondents cited Facebook or Google Talk as references.
7 In your opinion, what are the main obstacles that stand in the way of implementing collaborative tools within your Procurement organisation? The main obstacle to implementing collaborative procurement tools within Procurement departments is the lack of internal buy-in (60%), followed by the fact that tools are already implemented at group level (45%) and confidentiality of the information shared (30%). Like any project, the deployment of collaborative tools, features and methods requires a change management strategy based on 3 strengths: information, communication and training. Although accustomed to the issues relating to change management within the company, Procurement departments do not seem to apply the right solutions when they are the ones directly impacted. From a tools perspective, vendors should keep in mind that collaborative procurement features must not conflict with tools already deployed at group level (messaging inbox, document sharing, etc.), or otherwise risk not being used by buyers.
8 To conclude Procurement departments of large international groups that are looking for new drivers to create value (see Ivalua Procurement Executives survey 2013) for their companies now position themselves as the orchestra conductor of the buyer/specifier/supplier relationship. This new positioning requires the creation of a collaborative culture founded upon centralised information sharing (best practices, supplier info, etc.) to guarantee better team performance. Based on the features provided by their companies and more particularly, those features offered by e-procurement solution vendors, Procurement departments have developed collaborative practices that help to break down walls within the company (between the Procurement department and other departments) and provide better team productivity when validating a procurement request, assessing suppliers and managing contracts, etc. As the results of the Trending in Procurement survey show, Procurement departments are in favour of opening up e-procurement collaborative features to external parties. The next step in the collaborative process for Procurement departments will be to extend collaborative tools to suppliers (in particular), to promoting innovation (open innovation, crowd sourcing, etc.) and to buyers within other companies in order to share supplier information (supplier performance assessment).
9 Methodology & Panel This third Trending in Procurement survey titled Collaborative features of e-procurement tools was disseminated by (from September to December 2013) and in paper format during the Ivalua On Air event (15 October 2013) to a target public of international procurement professionals. A total 195 responses were collected and analysed. About Ivalua Established in January 2000, Ivalua is one of the leading global vendors in Spend Management Software today. The company s software suite Ivalua Buyer covers the whole Spend Management spectrum, from supplier relationship management to spend analysis, with e-sourcing, e-procurement and invoice management in between. Based in the US and Europe, Ivalua has successfully implemented more than 150 projects within large international companies in all sectors, enabling Ivalua to demonstrate strong growth while remaining profitable since its creation. Ivalua solutions have been widely tested and adopted by several tens of thousands of users worldwide. Thanks to its ecosystem of partners, Ivalua supports its clients with a wide range of services and content integrated within its solutions. For more information, visit or contact us by on