Hannah MacDonald, Head of Procurement at Monzo, has shared valuable insights on how to build a lean and agile procurement team with us on the Procurement Reimagined Podcast. Her expertise in the procurement space comes from her experience with Monzo and her previous role at Just Eat.
Hannah is a procurement pro who has experienced building out a new and scaling team several times. I recorded a Procurement Reimagined episode with her earlier this year, where we focused on how automation can improve procurement teams.
Here are my favourite takeaways from this episode that you can apply within your business to make procurement more effective.
1. Vendor ESG and Sustainability
Hannah highlighted the need for procurement teams to align with their organisation's values and prioritise sustainability in procurement activities.
Procurement significantly contributes to an organisation's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact.
"50-80% of scope three emissions are in our supply chains." - Procurement With Purpose, by Peter Smith and Mark Perera.
Not to mention that we can evaluate, via ESG due diligence, the overall impact that the vendor is having on the E, S, and G elements.
"I've been literally swallowing the book on ESG recently, and I think my take on it is we've got a very, very unique opportunity to influence sustainability in our organisations and through supply chains.
My take on this is also, I think we're in the midst of a generational change, and people are making very clear and informed decisions around the impact they want to have on the planet. And my take on this is our next procurement leaders will have even more data at their fingertips than we do now.
I still feel like we're kind of guessing a bit if you work in a manufacturing or production environment. I think it's a bit different, but certainly, if you work in tech then scope three is a minefield, I cannot find any solid ground to stand on that gives me accurate data.
So I think we are in a very unique position, and I thinkif you want to be a procurement professional in the future, if you're not an advocate for ESG, you're probably in the wrong role." - Hannah MacDonald
I, like Hannah, have been "swallowing the book" on ESG, too. As long as procurement creates more space to work on new value-addd tasks, procurement pros will be well-placed to drive sustainability and broader ESG agendas in the supply chain.
Value-adds like ESG won't happen if you're still working on tasks that are automatable, say via a workflow engine, or if you don't have the right skillsets within your procurement team.
Hannah stressed the significance of having diverse skills and a network of peers to succeed in procurement. These skills include technical, commercial, and interpersonal skills.
Hannah noted that having a network of peers to learn from and share ideas with could benefit you.
Two things you could do here:
- Join a professional association for procurement.
- Attend industry events, like Digital Procurement World, to meet other procurement pros.
Networking is powerful and is a shortcut to learning about emerging trends in procurement.
"I think the other thing for me is networking post-COVID. I've been to two events in the last like two weeks. One in person, one on a big webcast thing and those two events have given me new contacts, new material and have pushed forward my thinking on understanding of topics in the space of a couple of days.
And again, there's so much going on in this space. It's such an interesting spot to be in so many different topics, risk management, ESG, whatever you want to call it. Automation of contracting.
If you don't have those networks and you're not tapped into kind of like what's going on, you will be left with dust. You will struggle to find your way forward.
So for me, especially post-COVID, like develop your peer networks, find safe spaces to talk to people under Chatham House rules if you want, where you can just be like, look, I'm really struggling with this. How have you got on?
And like I said, those couple of events have really made a difference for me in terms of thinking and also just opened up doors. I can go talk to that person now. Hey, I saw you were on the call the other day. It was really nice. I love the question that you asked. I'd love to talk to you more about it." - Hannah MacDonald
Hannah's point about being left behind rings true to me. The best procurement pros I've worked with and engaged with are naturally curious. They're experimenting and pushing the boundaries of how procurement operates to find increased value for their teams.
If you've not attended one of our Success Hours Webinars yet, I highly urge you to sign up (even if you're not a Gatekeeper Customer). Myself, James, and Lucy will guide you through the best practice methods of vendor and contract management. We also steer people on how to do this via Gatekeeper, our Vendor and Contract Lifecycle Management (VCLM) Platform.
Start small and work from the ground up
Hannah noted that starting small and building from the ground up is essential when implementing automation and tooling. Fix what is broken and work out what works well before introducing new tools. Starting small allows teams to test and iterate their processes to ensure they are adequate before scaling up.
Starting Small Method for Procurement Teams
Procurement teams should prioritise fixing inefficient processes before implementing new tools or systems.
1. Understand your team's skills: Hiring individuals with data skills and coding experience can significantly benefit building a successful procurement team. Individuals with data skills can help procurement teams build dashboards and analyse data to make informed decisions. As we focus more than ever on a foundation of "good" data in procurement, having a team inclined to be hyper-aware of this is a good start.
2. Be forward-thinking and plan ahead: Hannah recommends understanding how the team operates, optimising processes and workflows, and being prepared for future growth. Procurement teams should anticipate future growth and plan accordingly to meet the organisation's needs. By being forward-thinking, procurement teams can build a framework that can adapt to market and organisational changes.
I'll add a different perspective here as well.
3. Many people in procurement roles aren't aware of what digital can do
for their processes. So whilst you should get clued up on it and make your processes as good as possible, don't get blinded by it. Procurement technology could enable you to build a process in a way you never considered before, to drop numerous tasks as they are automated, and introduce you to a better way of doing procurement.
Hannah is one of those in procurement trying to pull it through into a new generation, much like another recent guest, Michelle Vita, at Datadog. Each day, small steps to improve how you are doing procurement feel obtainable.
Like James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits states, "Improving by 1 percent isn't particularly notable—sometimes it isn't even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here's how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you're done.".
That's how I think about these small improvements in procurement. You can automate a small step in your process each month, and by the end of the year, you could have one process with all of the manual steps automated. On this point, we built out many Best Practice Workflows at Gatekeeper to shortcut this for you.
If you want to improve your procurement team this year, this could help you. Book a call with one of our vendor and contract management experts here to talk about this.