Innovations and Idea Management

Where there is room for improvement, there is room for innovation. And there is always room for improvement.
As a procurement manager, you know that.
Maybe you do not know that you have to go on a long hike to be innovative. You can take some of the rules outlined in the Startup Guide and turn your purchasing department into a hotbed of intrapreneurship.

What is intrapreneurship?

Intrapreneurs behave like entrepreneurs, but within a large organization. It can be the best of both worlds - the financial risks are lower because innovation is supported by a "big" (and also for SME) business and there is no reason to fight alone - you can potentially become a pool of employees to put together a team.

What can purchasing from start-ups learn?

1. Do not be a start-up
"A start-up is a company focused on three things:
- what his product is,
- who his customers are and
- how to earn money.
If you replace the item "earning money" with "saving money" in your purchasing organization, then you can ask yourself: is your procurement function a "start-up"?
Purchasing often has difficulty identifying unique customers. Once you realize that you actually have (internal) customers, you've taken the first step to become process administrators to innovators.

2. Confirm the product idea with the customers.
So you have identified your customers. You probably think these customers want the product you currently offer - cost savings, improved delivery, innovation-driven innovation, or other things procurement can achieve. No matter how strong you believe in your "product", you need to confirm that belief with your customers. After all, your service portfolio must please your customers.

3. Your first idea of ​​where the pain is is almost always wrong.
"No business plan survives the first contact with customers."
You know the procurement from inside out. If you are so close to your product, it may be difficult to look at it from the perspective of an outsider. You need to put yourself in the shoes of your customers - or even better, get feedback directly from your customers - before you really understand what their pain is and how it should be treated.
Just as doctors do not prescribe medication prior to an exam, so you should not offer solutions to problems that you just assume exist.

4. Proactively search for problems and strategies - do not just react.
This is the difference between tactical sourcing and strategic sourcing.
Being Proactive means understanding your current data and current goals so that you can predict the strategies you need to move them forward. Nothing else tries to support "predictive analytics", which is still rather rudimentary in the area of ​​purchasing.
It also goes beyond sourcing. You can look for ways to reduce the risk of supply chain disruption. You can actively ask customers about their problems or perceived risks and see if procurement can spearhead a solution. In this way, purchasing plays a strategic role in the organization rather than responding to immediate requests.

5. Create. Measure up. Learn.
Identify your customers, validate your product, and proactively look for issues to solve. In other words, MAKE.
Then look at the result. You can not continue building indefinitely - obstacles will emerge, over time the solution is outdated.
Take the time to measure your results at regular intervals. From there you can decide if you want to move in the same direction or change the path. That's learning; Without measuring, you will not learn what works and what does not.
It is not so much about the KPIs, Spend Cubes, etc., but about the accuracy of fit and the growth potential of the solution, about usability and acceptance among our own employees and customers.

6. Sales and Closing.
While sales and start-ups know that they need to make sales / deals, "sales" is usually not a common term in procurement. However, for procurement, "closing" means selling your (added) value whenever you have the chance.
Many will not understand you as a value creator. Repetition helps - in reports, in meetings. Be your own internal champion of your function.