#ShopperExperience - at work as in private?

Picture: Brooke Cagle (https://unsplash.com/@brookecagle)

In our private lives most of us are now doing a fair bit of online shopping. Online commerce doesn't have the advantage of physical touch and feel, but the advantage of convenience. You can shop anytime from anywhere with any internet ready device. Once your shopper profile is created, it literally takes you 1 or 2 clicks to check out the shopping cart and send the order.

This heavily contrasts with the experience of the "shopper" working for a corporation. Firstly a plethora of documents and information must be gathered, including quotes, supplier information, cost center, budget line and others. Then logging on to a tedious, tired looking interface, often slow to respond and coming with anything but an intuitive user experience. Approving invoices against the purchase order is no more of a pleasure.

Similar experiences await the user with other systems, the supplier with eInvoicing, the manager with performance management systems, the traveller with travel booking and expense claims and so forth. Disjointed systems, but not great digital learning really. Anyone who can, will push as much as possible to an unfortunate admin, problem moved but not solved. Obviously not unique to Procurement, but anything but conducive to employees enjoying a great experience, being productive and focussing on tasks that add value. That experience is contrasted by talk in the media about artificial intelligence, robotics and a future where tedious repetitive work is gone. It makes you wonder...

Procurement has a long way to go to deliver a shopper experience even remotely reminiscent of online retailers. If P2P systems have been implemented globally and the related support functions set up, which is a stage which many are still at, then the next big task must be to redesign the experience. This requires a mix of practitioners from Procurement, Finance and Technology, but also Design and hopefully Suppliers to ensure the experience is thought through end-to-end. And when looking at the Technology solutions available, many ERP providers still seem stuck in the ages of Atari TOS when you look at their default user interface.

Many Procurement departments, whilst great at the "core" skills of the role, are less digitally savvy, less familiar with lean and other process efficiency approaches, have rarely heard of design thinking and are remote from how a technology project is successfully led, driven and implemented. But an excellent field to set your Procurement apart from other companies'. Many talk of "world class" - few truly are in the space of Procurement enabling technology. And the goal in the end is not to spend more time on tech, but free it up to be out and about knowing the suppliers, influencing and building relationships that carry - while tech takes care of the "boring" routine tasks.

So finally - no, this is not just about a flashy looking interface, but regaining unproductive time, harvesting more accurate data, getting information quickly and spending more time in face to face activity.

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