As we progress through 2023, the current state of the economy has prompted uncertainty among business leaders and organizations. Businesses are preparing for potential downturns and pondering cost-cutting measures. In these challenging times, it's more critical than ever to improve resiliency, visibility and agility – especially in supply chain and procurement operations.
A great way to improve in these areas is through orchestration - the integration and coordination across systems and processes to eliminate complexity, streamline workflows and enable better collaboration across departments. When implemented as part of modern digital automation platforms, this orchestration combats the challenges presented by traditional processes that are typically fragmented, siloed or manual. These processes can hinder collaboration, increase conflict and cut procurement teams out of visibility into Spend Under Management (SUM).
Why Orchestration is Critical
Creating a streamlined, efficient and automated procurement process is a challenge many modern organizations face, often due to their reliance on fragmented legacy processes, coupled with a lack of cohesion between departments. This fragmentation ultimately results in maverick, unmanaged spending. Poor orchestration drastically interferes with the ability to achieve compliance and meet overall regulatory requirements. It can also result in a broken user experience and create friction between business users and the procurement team. As you might expect, the larger and more decentralized a company is, the worse these problems become – creating tension between the desire for agility and the need for compliance and control.
The secret to orchestration is to establish smart procurement workflows, essentially using process automation to break silos, reduce cycle times and onboard and engage with suppliers more efficiently. Moreover, orchestrated workflows increase visibility for finance teams into spending and commitments and help organizations scale their operations to meet legal, compliance, finance and other regulatory requirements more swiftly.
Without the right orchestration, a bad workflow can result in bad data which in turn leads to poor business decisions. The obverse is equally true: Optimized workflows naturally generate high quality data from user actions and integrated systems, enabling business users to make better decisions consistently and drive extraordinary business impact.
Organizations should consider three crucial areas for introducing orchestration to improve procurement and supply chain processes.
Orchestration of context across business applications
The most clear-cut opportunity is to use orchestrated workflows to create a single, unified entry point for stakeholders to interact with procurement across their business applications.
Unlike traditional models, modern procurement processes are not necessarily linear, making visibility into the statuses of sub-processes a must-have for users (and procurement pros) for the best coordination. When different parts of the procurement process are interdependent yet lack a unified view, the result is fragmented context, application switching and a poor user experience.
Orchestration of procurement and vendor interaction across departments
The next opportunity is to orchestrate procurement processes and vendor engagement across departments. As referenced, there are different sub-processes involved in managing both procurement and supply chains. Here’s where orchestrated workflows that are crafted around an organization’s needs provide myriad benefits.
For example, when it comes to managing supplier data, orchestrated workflows help provide a centralized and consistent repository for storing and accessing supplier information that can then feed into more specialized systems. Orchestration can help ensure only relevant information shows up once for each supplier and the necessary information is readily available where needed to help with supplier onboarding.
Orchestration of the larger supply chain workflow
The biggest opportunity is to orchestrate the comprehensive supply chain and procurement workflow. This is particularly important – and challenging – given the proliferation of “best of breed” systems that tend to lack integration, leading to gaps in collaboration and context.
Orchestration can help establish a composable framework of underlying applications. The right workflows for a particular organization not only provide visibility and control over fragmented processes, but they also allow employees to effectively self-service procurement and supply needs, replacing the requirement for time-consuming change requests. This type of cross-departmental procurement orchestration can even enable organizations to digitize and automate spend related to complex service requisitions and specialized products.
When looking to increase workflows across an organization, business leaders should look to optimize their existing systems to improve resiliency, visibility and agility. Implementing orchestrated workflows can result in stronger, more nimble organizations while creating a unified and seamless experience for users. Orchestration can also empower business leaders to dramatically improve the procurement experience for business users and stakeholders, reining in maverick spend and informing spend decisions better. Orchestration can ultimately help a company improve its bottom line and position them to take on economic headwinds with confidence.