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Procurement Reimagined

Andra Fola, Co-Founder of Solutionary Minds, joins Daniel on this episode of Procurement Reimagined and shares her insights on navigating procurement in a turbulent and uncertain environment.

Andra shares her insights on navigating turbulent times and how to emerge a winner when the upturn begins. She has over fifteen years of procurement exposure and has held procurement leadership roles at companies like Amazon and Vodafone. She is the co-founder of two startups, besides being a mentor and startup accelerator at Institute Benelux x Silicon Valley.


Key Highlights:

  • 08:26 - 12:09 - Reimagining Procurement in a Recession - Navigating through an economic downturn is a three-step process for procurement teams. The first step is to prioritise projects and spending. The prioritisation needs to cut through the noise of multiple stakeholders wanting more for less and a constant realignment of strategies. The teams still need to deal with procurement linearly.  

    The next step is identifying and signing off on the critical metrics for each deal with the stakeholders. Is the direct spend more important, or is it the total cost of ownership? What are the minimum deliverables, and what is the make or break point with the vendor? 

    The final step is to get a c-suite stakeholder to act as your mentor and sponsor. This person can help resolve intransigent problems and act as a sounding board for your ideas. There’s one last step for the procurement leaders. Once you have implemented the three steps with your team, get out of their way and resist the urge to micromanage. 

  • 12:30 - 13:50 - The Art of Saying No - Most of the noise for procurement teams comes when budgets are tight and expectations are high. The ability to say no and stand behind it is an essential skill for all procurement professionals. For a start, understand that saying no is a rational and not an emotional decision, and explain it in those terms to the person. Share the logical reasons you’re saying no and explain a bit of the why behind the no.

  • 14:52 - 16:20 - Is the Prioritisation Plan Rigid or Agile - Start by defining your north star and build your initial plan. Next, go back and add what-ifs and backup scenarios at critical points in the workflow to add agility. Trying to analyse and forecast everything in a dynamic environment is futile; instead, focus on the critical milestones. 

  • 20:09 - 23:15 - Opportunities for Procurement in Downturns - Economic downturns are an opportunity for procurement to enhance its value in the organisation. The ability to deliver on the broad metrics with a budget cut of, say, twenty percent adds value to the function. When the downturn reaches its inflection point and spending rises again, stakeholders at the c-suite table want the same efficiency to improve the margins. Navigating a downturn successfully can buy procurement a seat at the strategic decision-making table.  



  • “Once you have shared the plan with your team and gone through the three-step process, don’t micromanage. Get out of the team's way and let them function.” 
  • “Procurement as a function has the opportunity to shine and become a guide for shaping company strategies.”
  • “My personal approach is to have a north star and hold that tight and then build the agility to try and experiment and fail while reacting to market conditions.” 
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