Collaboration Technology: The Key to Better Planning and Procurement
Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and sourcing teams across industry sectors are struggling to deal with a global supply chain disrupted by a triple whammy of ongoing challenges from the pandemic, increase in energy costs, and high inflation.
Supply chain volatility and economic uncertainty are driving the need for businesses to deploy collaboration tools that eliminate operational silos and streamline procurement. Many future-focused organizations are adopting cloud-based sourcing and planning software to facilitate real-time planning, budgeting, and stakeholder collaboration.
Overcoming operational constraints
The inability of internal and external stakeholders to collaborate on a shared set of data is a primary cause of misalignment in operational and financial planning and sourcing. Many organizations use legacy solutions that rely on manual and ineffective processes for planning and sourcing, which can result in siled information systems that stifle growth.
Bridging these data gaps can help facilitate cross-disciplinary cooperation and drive positive outcomes. Recently Survey of Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services of financial planning and procurement executives, 51% of respondents said that better data integration will result in more accurate budget forecasting and reduce overspending.
Siled organizational information systems are significant barriers to collaboration between FP&A and sourcing teams. In addition to the need for integrated technology platforms, the organizational structures themselves may need realignment, as the planning and sourcing teams report to different department heads prevent collaboration, 47% of survey respondents said .
Collaboration bottlenecks can harm an organization’s supply chain stability. In service industries, accurate forecasting of employment levels directly affects the acquisition of office space and equipment. For manufacturers and retailers, disconnections between planning and sourcing can result in overspending on inventory or getting the wrong inventory in the wrong place.
Update legacy solutions
Planning and sourcing teams need cloud-based technology to replace cumbersome legacy supply chain management tools, such as manually updated spreadsheets and email chains.
Automation enables sourcing departments to ensure operations teams have the information they need for purchases that reflect negotiated savings and price caps. Real-time purchasing data also helps FP&A teams update their plans and budgets to reflect ever-changing market conditions.
Among survey respondents from high-performing organizations, 42% said their planning and sourcing functions share real-time access to the same data. The organizations that accelerate their collaboration the most make strategic commitments to use the best available technology solutions. “They really put their money where their mouth is in terms of seeing their operations,” said Chad Autryprofessor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee.
Solutions designed to enable stakeholder engagement and cooperation can pay big dividends. Many companies that invest in technology that enables collaboration gain a competitive advantage, because facilitating the seamless sharing of data improves their efficiency and reduces their costs.
Helping companies solve real-world problems
Organizations can customize their cloud-native sourcing and planning platforms for specific customer needs and scale them up or down as needed. Easily configurable frameworks enable organizations to deploy and manage their own platforms—so they can make changes without rewriting code or starting over.
Businesses that invest in strategic search and plan Solutions require a platform that is open, extensible, and interoperable, enabling connectivity with other productivity applications and collaboration tools. It is also important to implement technology that uses machine learning to optimize workflows and analyze real-time data for actionable business insights.
In any organization, the best technology should reflect the unique needs and processes of the supply chain and should be easy to implement and use. Successful automation is reflected in planning, sourcing, and financial business processes.
NTT Global Sourcing replaced its legacy workflow processes with strategic sourcing software that facilitates a source-to-contract system to provide real-time insights into projected savings. The platform streamlines collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, enables shared workflows using a common data set, and provides a reliable audit trail.
Improved collaboration between planning and sourcing teams leads to improved supply chain stability and better efficiency. Organizations can learn when new technology is working when their planning and sourcing teams no longer rely on traditional manual methods of communication and collaboration.
“When planning and search are well integrated and work from the same data, good things happen,” he said Linda Dunn, assistant professor of supply chain management at Georgetown University. “You have a stronger understanding of your suppliers, which facilitates good supplier relationship management.”
Improving alignment between your organization’s planning and search teams will help you improve your operational efficiency and reduce your costs. Better supply chain risk management capabilities also help your FP&A and strategic sourcing teams operate faster and more efficiently, enabling more efficient sourcing, production, and distribution. as well as growth and leadership in your sector during a rapidly growing economic climate.
For more detailed insights into the benefits of strategic search and collaboration technology, download the HBR–Analytic Services research report “Optimizing the Supply Chain by Aligning Planning and Sourcing Functions.”