Why Your Services Procurement Solution Needs to Go Further
Ever feel like you’re trying to engage services in the dark? You’re not alone.
Right now, many organizations around the world are procuring services spend in exactly the same way that they purchase goods or physical materials. The procurement processes and technology organizations use don’t distinguish the difference between buying the services of a team of consultants versus buying a piece of manufacturing equipment. To some extent, it is working today – as organizations are buying services, with the same procurement processes and tools they use to buy equipment and materials. However, this standard approach to procuring services means companies miss out on visibility and insights that could help them to truly understand and optimize their services spend. This is more than a missed opportunity; it can have a huge impact on cost control, compliance, and best practice. Ultimately, it may mean you aren’t paying a fair price for the services you engage in, and when you’re spending billions of dollars on services every year, this can have a terrifying impact on your bottom line.
In this blog, I look at some of the key aspects of next-level services procurement solutions and why they should matter to your business.
Visibility is everything
Let’s say you’re buying a new car. You could just purchase it based on the total price and a gut feeling, but in reality, you’re probably going to want to look a little more closely before parting with thousands of dollars. You want to know about fuel consumption, maintenance, and all of the features it has or doesn’t have. True visibility means having access to detailed information that allows you to make an informed decision. The same applies to buying services. When you’re thinking about engaging a service provider, you should know how that service is going to be delivered. What is the makeup of the team assigned to delivering it? What’s the historical supplier performance associated with these types of services? What does previous engagement manager feedback look like? None of this is ground-breaking or surprising; these are procurement best practices that have been in the industry for decades but have never been fully adopted or optimized within services categories. For organizations who want to embrace next-level maturity, it’s crucial to implement processes and technology that enable a deeper understanding of services spend and can collect and analyze data effectively.
Rethinking the buying journey
I believe that creating an effective services procurement approach starts with the buying journey. How do your engagement managers buy services? Where do they start, what type of suppliers are they choosing and why? By capturing this data, you can begin to understand what decisions are being made, why they are being made, and if there is an opportunity to guide better buying channels. This data is foundational to building a structured buying journey that not only leads to better decisions but that feels intuitive and easy. A solution that makes life harder for your engagement managers just isn’t going to stick, but processes and technology that make for simpler and faster purchases will drive useful data, help to control costs, and see higher user uptake.
Turning down risk and turning up compliance
Even if we take the financial implications of procuring services without a clear view of what and why you’re buying off the table, the risk of a business engaging services with limited visibility is enormous. A company must know who has access to their systems and assets, who is working in their buildings, and whether any of the services they engage present any type of co-employment risk. The traditional, functional way of procuring services may get a purchase order approved and services delivered, but does it really help to mitigate risk? Strong risk management and compliance are a natural output of a services procurement solution that enables organizations to understand the services they are engaging, how work is being classified, and how assignments are progressing inside their business.
I’ve been on both sides of the fence, spending most of my career leading procurement organizations before moving across to consult on and lead MSP services procurement solutions. I have first-hand knowledge of the complexities of managing global procurement teams, and I feel strongly that traditional procurement approaches to buying services are urgently in need of transformation. Procuring services can’t just be something a business gets done – there is too much at stake both financially and in terms of business risk to make decisions in the dark. However, finding solutions to these challenges is not as easy as plugging in another tech solution. Your procurement function is complex and unique, and anyone who says they can overhaul it with an off-the-shelf product is, at best, misguided.
A successful services procurement solution needs to be customized to an organization’s unique needs, challenges, and pain points. It must add clear value and be implemented in a way that makes sense for your people, and it needs to be considered alongside your total talent management approach. I’m proud of how the KellyOCG team develops and delivers services procurement solutions that truly help our clients to thrive – a key part of that process is tailoring what we do to the people and businesses we serve.
Simply, it all comes down to that old adage, ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure.’ When you really reflect on the way you engage service, are you measuring effectively (or at all)?
Want to know more about how KellyOCG does services procurement differently? Visit to find out more.
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