Consultants, procurement, and navigating digital change

Fast fact: Upward of 50% of an organizations’ cost base is commonly 3rd party related, and vendors are touching the customer all the time.

Consultants can aim to influence at the executive table early on and play their part in making sure that organizations fully benefit from the increasingly important role that 3rd parties will likely play in their future, says Strategic Sourcing expert Andy MacLellan.

Every aspect of the corporate world is changing due to technology innovation. Companies that don’t hire and nurture talent accordingly could risk missing opportunities, damage customer confidence and lose market share.

Procurement teams need to evolve both the quality of talent within procurement and be more strategic in their approach to ensure they capitalize on opportunities from technology and digital innovation.

Consultants can become expert advisors who effectively foster communication and partnership between procurement and top management to identify procurement needs, helping enable the procurement department be part of this crucial decision-making process. At the same time, consultants who have deep digital knowledge will bring even more value to organizations.

To better understand how consultants can achieve success working more strategically with organizations as well as with procurement departments, I chatted with Andy MacLellan, who has deep experience and perspective in strategic procurement which includes industry and digital disruption. Here is a short excerpt from our discussion.

Andy MacLellan

About Andy: Andy is a C-level leader experienced in Corporate and Consulting environments. His background includes many initiatives leading Global Strategic sourcing and serving as Chief Procurement Officer for two major international financial institutions.

How is digital technology impacting procurement and sourcing decisions?

Strategic investment decisions are increasingly an everyday consideration for most organizations from analytics to robotics to automation. These solutions are commonly provided by 3rd parties and have enormous potential to benefit the organization and its customers. But harnessing technological innovations can still be costly and difficult, particularly for small to medium sized enterprises.

Consultants/advisors have a great opportunity to help procurement departments and organizations (large and small) understand how, for example, cloud-based platforms and other technologies can benefit them at reasonable cost now and without mortgaging into the future.

Is procurement talent changing with the times?

Procurement often still feels like a developing profession, with many organizations experiencing a talent gap that is actually widening with the demands of the digital agenda. Procurement needs to be open to innovation and position itself on the cutting edge of both technology and talent in order to help organizations seize sourcing opportunities, meet challenges and close the gap. In short, procurement needs to step up and deliver like never before.

What steps are needed to reshape procurement?

Procurement needs to contribute strongly at the front end with business leaders, particularly in making and implementing technology decisions. It needs to be able to converse in the language of better solutions and services to customers rather than be internally focused on procurement jargon and metrics. It is more important than ever to understand the business strategically and work closely with business partners.

Upward of 50% of an organizations’ cost base is commonly 3rd party related, and vendors are touching the customer all the time. Therefore, my view is companies can’t afford not to continually seek to upskill their procurement competency and performance. More than ever, procurement and sourcing skills need to become an effective part of the overall business’ “DNA”, to work fluidly with external partners, seize opportunities and stand out from the competition.

Consultants can often help procurement and organizations with their development journey by adding/supplementing common scarce skills such as business requirement definition and supplier capability assessment.


What advice do you give consultants and small businesses in terms of doing business with various sizes of organizations?

Due to the pace of change and unprecedented levels of risk, alternative opinions, option assessment and effective due diligence are more important than ever. Working with client teams (quite often including larger consultancies), boutique consulting firms / solo consultants have an opportunity to position themselves to help “stress test” and improve the quality of new thinking and innovation.

Consultants can aim to influence at the executive table early on and play their part in making sure that organizations fully benefit from the increasingly important role that 3rd parties will likely play in their future. By doing this, they can give themselves a competitive edge and a potential plethora of opportunities to continue these corporate relationships over the long term.

As always, invest time in learning how organizations make decisions and do your part to encourage collaboration rather than more traditional methods, for example, focusing on a single line of business engagement. By working collaboratively and caring passionately about your customer’s customers you will quickly build trust and help businesses make better quality decisions even before the ink dries on your contract.

For more on Andy’s background and experience, visit his profile on LinkedIn.

Let’s open the discussion! Please share your comments below about your experience with procurement and the impact of technology on business.

© Kim Chernecki 2017

About the author

Kim Chernecki helps high-performing freelance executives, consultants, coaches and other experts, land lucrative corporate contracts. She is the creator of the Land Corporate Contracts Fast-Track System, and is a top-rated sales performance executive, facilitator, coach, advisor, speaker and strategist. A 25-year entrepreneur, Kim has consulted with executives from 100+ leading North American and Fortune 1000 companies and has, herself, started up and helped grow 10 businesses and business divisions. She’s closed millions of dollars in corporate contracts, and provides powerful strategies and proven formulas to help her clients do the same.

You may also be interested in:

Subscribe to receive valuable insights

Join the Freedom Street newsletter list to get the latest news, trends, opinion and events vital to growing your business with corporate clients.

Subscribe now