Vlad is Indirect Procurement Controller, and also the administrator of the Per Angusta solution at Zalando. In this episode around Digital Procurement, Vlad shared with us his insights about Procurement Digital transformation and a few tips to maximize the users’ adoption.
In your opinion, what are the main challenges faced by Procurement regarding digital transformation?
To me, driving Procurement digital transformation requires the combination of 4 major aspects:
- Adopting the right mindset
Digital transformation means, first of all, being ready for change. Accepting a new way of thinking and working. Understanding that digital transformation is not an “island” solution, but that working with other teams within the organization is a key requirement
- Allocating skilled resources
One of the key success factors is access to qualified resources who understand both procurement and the need to perform the digital transformation. These people are key to guide organizations through the very diversified landscape of solutions out there.
- Nothing happens without sponsorship
Digital transformation does not happen overnight. Get buy-in and support from senior management is critical to push the agenda and to favor cultural change.
- Being Customer centric
Digital transformation is not an objective by itself, but a mean to disrupt the way of working to make things simpler and easier for our customers (internally or externally).
Could you tell us more about Zalando’s Digital Procurement journey?
The procurement digital transformation is a continuous journey. It started in 2016 with the introduction of a P2P solution, followed up by contract management, and then reporting/analytics.
In the meantime, we have introduced several user centric solutions to replace manual activities such as savings tracking and savings reporting through Per Angusta, data analysis and dashboard creation, process mining, contract signatures, remote approvals, … etc.
Everything is going very fast, the market is evolving rapidly, so we are constantly on the lookout for other opportunities.
For the Indirect Procurement scope, our team is leading and coordinating with other teams within the Procurement & Finance organization to identify the right processes, technology and to ensure change management and tools implementation.
We are aiming at improving the lives of a few key customer groups: the buying community, consisting of 40 people, as well as the business stakeholders and the senior management.
Zalando Procurement digital transformation embraces several objectives.
The main goal consists in a structured and data-driven decision making process that enables us to support the business in reaching its ambitious short and long term objectives. We are looking to achieve this in 4 steps by:
- Creating full transparency on our data and processes
- Connecting the dots and generating key insights for the business
- Taking action on the areas which deliver the most value
- Enabling users to focus on their core activities rather than administrative work
What are your responsibilities as Controller Indirect Procurement?
My current role differs quite a lot from the classic controller position. My main responsibilities can be defined into three categories:
Definition and alignment of our Procurement Policy, supporting the definition and tracking of our yearly targets, approving savings, and leading initiatives related to compliance, audit and risk
Creating framework for savings definition and validating, providing ad-hoc support for negotiations and commodity strategies
Implementation of new tools and solutions, enabling more automation, self-service. Providing the necessary support and insights for projects, leading to gain in efficiency
How do you ensure user adoption of your procurement digital solutions ?
I believe that good communication is the key. As with most digital solutions, the goal is to replace an existing, familiar, established process with something new, unknown, but more efficient and automated. It is key to understand the old processes very well, know what works and what doesn’t, keep your key stakeholders in the loop constantly, and show them the benefits of the new solution.
I also recommend the identification of 2 to 3 key users within your stakeholders’ group, who are more open and have a good understanding of the solution and its benefits, so that they can liaise better between the two worlds.
This is the approach we took with the implementation of Per Angusta as well. We were looking for a solution to replace our Excel based projects and savings reporting sheet with something less error prone, more automated, user friendly and with more functionality than our current solution. We involved several stakeholders from different teams in the process of selecting Per Angusta, configuring the tool and supporting after Go-Live.
One thing that sped up the adoption process significantly was the ease and speed with which Per Angusta was able to understand our needs, implement them and provide support after Go-Live. says Vlad
It made it easy for the end-user to recognize the benefit of switching and kept the learning curve very flat. We also had a dedicated Project Manager internally liaising with the Per Angusta implementation team to organize virtual training sessions for the buyers, define a Manual on how to use the tool and also solve any issues which could arise.
Right now the tool is being used by 40+ buyers with hundreds of sourcing initiatives being recorded real time and with our access to the custom dashboards we can always provide management on-demand updates if needed.
Finally, would you have any advice or best practice you would like to share with your peers?
One piece of advice I can give to anyone is to not keep postponing the start of the digital transformation journey. The global crisis that the world is facing is showing how much companies that were not prepared are currently struggling to set up processes such as home office, spend control, savings generation etc. This digital journey does not have an end, and looking at how technology develops, we will constantly be introducing new solutions.
Find a starting point and get going, implement 80%, roll it out to your customers, get feedback, improve and move on to the next one. concludes Vlad