The purchase function does not discover telework. Indeed, what is new in the Covid-19 context for the purchasing function is that telework is every day and for everyone.
However, this shift from exceptional to everyday life is not without consequences in the operation of the purchasing function. Thus, three lessons of telework can already be learned after a month of experience:
- Speed up the dematerialization of the billing and payment process
- Rethinking collective work within the purchasing team
- Reinventing proximity to trades
Prior to the Covid-19 event, the purchasing function sought to generalize the dematerialization of the billing process and settlement for two reasons :
- The management economy induced by the digital processing of supplier invoices
- Reliability and reduction of disputes
The telework situation adds a third excellent reason to finalize the dematerialization project carried by the purchasing function. Indeed, the transmission and processing of physical invoices have become impossible in a context where purchasing teams are confined to homes.
Thus, the continuation of the activity – and associated billing – is based on 100% dematerialization:
- From the transmission of invoices
- From the validation chain
- Treatment and settlement
Telework is not just remote work, to which, at least in the most important organizations, the purchasing function is accustomed. This is why the second obvious observation for the purchasing function in this period of confined telework is the need to adapt the team operation.
Indeed, the regulations around the coffee machine or passing the head in the office next door are obviously suspended. Not to mention, of course, the rituals of conviviality specific to each team. These constraints must therefore be seen as an opportunity to function differently.
The purchasing function puts into practice new rules for maintain cohesion and collective innovation :
- Around remote management and responsiveness in decision-making
- Around experimenting with new tools to animate team meetings
The third lesson of the Covid-19 crisis for the purchasing function is perhaps less its responsiveness to the new needs of the company than its ability to maintain the rigor of its relationship with the trades despite the pressure of the emergency.
Indeed, the purchasing function must adapt to a situation of cooperation perfectly new:
- Intense pressure from the trades to support the continuity of the supply chain and sometimes change the course
- Internal interlocutors sometimes new due to the reorganization of teams that remained on site
The buying function had to learn very quickly to put flexibility at the service of theAgility organization. At the same time, however, the team continued to make a strong case for its strategic ability:
- Perceiving the deep needs behind the urgent demands
- Controlling supplier risks despite operational pressure
- Boosting innovation to boost the company’s rebound capabilities
In conclusion, the announced anchoring of telework  in the practices of organizations values the current efforts of the purchasing function to maintain its contribution at the level usually expected. Progress in controlling the relationship from a distance will be welcome tomorrow.
A recent article by Xavier Laurent, Manutan’s Director of Added Value Services, entitled ”Why the Cloud Is Essential in Purchasing”must be re-read in line with this new perspective. Indeed, its interest is naturally strengthened due to the accelerated evolution of the practices of the purchasing function.
 This Epidemic That Accelerates the Digital Transition – Echoes 14/04/20
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