A distributed team is a team that works together from different geographical locations. People have done this, pretty much forever. They have always relied on technology to help them do this. In the last 25 years, the internet has provided amazing new ways in which teams can work together more efficiently.
The indigenous people of the Americas used an early form of team communication via fires and smoke signals to communicate from distances.
Whilst in the past weeks, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world, many more teams have found themselves working in the cloud.
Such as this example of a procurement professional being launched into the cloud.
eSourcing is a technology that relies on the cloud. Buyers and suppliers use their internet connections to exchange information, and the resulting information is stored online. In this post, I wanted to quickly cover 5 different ways in which we see eSourcing tools helping our customers work distributed and efficiently. These are compliance; auditing suppliers; agility; communicating across time zones, and pulling rather than pushing data.
Compliance is actually the thing that led me to want to write this article. It’s not the most glamorous subject, but it is vitally important. Many Market Dojo customers are relying on our products to ensure that they can demonstrate compliance within their sourcing activities.
This can take a number of different forms. Obvious examples are showing that you have gone out to a prescribed number of suppliers or recording how the winning offer was selected.
Another, specific example of this need for compliance is a report we are generating for a customer… Prior to Covid, the customer ran a large number of sealed bid RFQ’s each week. Their suppliers would submit a physical proposal in the post, which was then locked away until the bid opening deadline. Now that they’re all working from home, that process does not work, so they’re using Market Dojo to replicate it electronically (using our sealed bid feature). They have an audit trail around who has accessed the submission post-deadline. Reporting shows which offer have been reviewed, who by, and when this was done.
Having a central system to manage your sourcing activities makes it straightforward to demonstrate compliance.
A lot of our customers are working to audit their supply chain exposure to the pandemic. Using eSourcing tools allow you to do this extremely efficiently, with a minimal amount of additional effort for each additional supplier you audit. We have even provided a template that you can use, already prepared with questions you may want to ask your suppliers.
For a distributed team, it may be more difficult to travel in order to meet suppliers, but you can gather information electronically. You may not be able to sit down face to face with colleagues, but you can ask them to contribute comments and scores to your assessment using online tools.
The pandemic means uncertainty for businesses. We expect that procurement teams will need to respond quickly and effectively as the world changes in the weeks and months to come.
By using an eSourcing tool, distributed teams can quickly create and share templates that are appropriate for changing market conditions. They can easily ask colleagues to review tenders and share feedback online.
eSourcing also makes it much more convenient to go out to the widest range of suppliers, by automating parts of the process and streamlining the way in which assessments are carried out on submissions.
Communicating across time zones
Using online messaging within an eSourcing tool to communicate, greatly reduces the friction when working across timezones. A tender sent out at 5 pm on Monday in the UK can be reviewed by suppliers in China and Australia overnight, and clarifying questions can be addressed, and the answers shared with everyone at the click of a button. This probably won’t completely remove the need to pick up the telephone from time to time, but it will make the conversations that happen by ‘phone much more efficient and targetted. Also, if you use the notes feature in Market Dojo, you can keep a central record of all the conversations that take place, right next to the details of people’s offers.
Pulling rather than pushing data
When you are working together in an office, it can be easy to see when it’s a good time to drop by someone’s desk to discuss progress on a project. Remotely, this can be more difficult. If it’s just a quick question about the latest progress on a sourcing exercise, it may be difficult to get the information in a timely manner. By eSourcing tool, you can give access to an event to all the stakeholders. They can log in and retrieve the data any time they wish, without having to interrupt you or wait until the next scheduled update. This can make a big difference, reducing bottlenecks and frustration, and allowing everyone to work more efficiently.
If you enjoyed this blog, then you might also like our infographic on working from home.