Just as other spheres of business all around the world, procurement too is adopting new ways of working. These days the role of procurement in organizations is gradually expanding. This encourages purchasing teams to address their increasing challenges with digital collaboration tools. Which is why today we’ll take a closer look at this scenario and see how to improve procurement with Microsoft Teams.
Let’s list some of the procurement challenges can be solved with Microsoft Teams.
Delays are inevitable in procurement and may happen at any stage of the process. The causes will vary, from failing to deliver product specifications to extending of the approval process.
Longer supply chains mean even more chance for delays. Brining Microsoft Teams to your procurement process will allow your team to store and analyze data, effectively communicate with suppliers, and give faster responses, thus minimizing the risk of delays.
Having a trusting and long-lasting relationship with suppliers can go a long way in your procurement strategy. However, identifying the right vendor, monitoring their performance, and ensuring a stable supply of quality products is a challenging task. To facilitate the process, you need a solution that will allow your team to onboard, monitor and communicate with vendors in an easy and effective way.
Alignment of the procurement department with the rest of the organization is key for seamless collaboration. However, communicating with multiple departments regarding their purchasing needs can be tricky, especially in the world of remote working.
Microsoft Teams can serve as a platform for easy communication and collaboration thus ensuring internal alignment.
Process inconstancy and inefficiency
Oftentimes purchases are made in the last minute, leading to additional costs and inconsistency in the procurement process. Urgent purchases can be caused by delays in technical specifications, failure to follow the schedule, slow evaluation and negotiation.
Failure to implement and follow procurement guidelines inevitably affects other departments, such as marketing and sales.
Risk management and mitigation
Supply risks are always a big challenge in the procurement process. Finding reliable vendors, ensuring quality, minimizing market risks and fraud are all an integral part of risk management. It requires a joint effort of the whole procurement team.
An easy-to-use collaboration tool that allows live collaboration and unites multiple channels of communication can help your team respond faster to any potential risk. Additionally, creating and sharing procurement guidelines will help them quickly find effective solutions.
Unstructured data storage
In order to make any procurement decision, your team needs to have easy access to the right data. Keeping all the information structured will save your team the time spent on searching and processing the data. It will also allow to avoid duplication of files and mistakes in orders.
How Microsoft Teams can facilitate the procurement process
Structure your communication
With Microsoft Team your procurement team can easily structure the entire procurement cycle by creating a team for each new order. You can build channels dedicated to every single stage of the purchasing process, from identifying the right vendors to negotiating a deal.
This way, your team will have structured conversations, and can store and share information in a dedicated space. They will be able to easily find the right information leading to faster decision making.
Have secure conversations and meetings
Microsoft Teams allows you to invite guest users to your teams and even private channels, facilitating greatly the communication process between your procurement team and suppliers.
You can invite them to video meetings for negotiations, share documentation on compliance and requirements, as well as assign tasks and track their implementation.
Manage time efficiently
A great way to minimize inconsistency in the procurement process, stick to the schedule and align activities with other departments in through Planner. This Microsoft app is a task management tool that allows you to create and categorize tasks, add checklists, timeline, files and links, as well as assign them to multiple users.
Create tasks for each stage of the procurement process and assign them to your team members and vendors. You can even set the priority level and see the progress of the task implementation.
This can also be applied for teams from other departments within your organization, by creating relevant tasks.
Create and follow guidelines
A sure way to manage and mitigate risks is by building and sticking to guidelines for the procurement process. To ensure their visibility and easy access, you can create a SharePoint site. Then, you can pin it as a tab in the relevant channel.
Add all the compliance rules, regulations, list of known and reliable vendors, main priorities, and any documentation that can support your team.
Share and update data
Each channel in Microsoft Teams has a Files tab that is connected to SharePoint. There you can create, upload and store any document, offering your procurement team a great storage space. Keeping all your data in a single space and the possibility to share it through posts or private messages facilitates data management and helps avoid duplication.
Work together on files
Another great capability of Microsoft Teams that is often overlooked is live collaboration. Your team members no longer need to wait for their colleagues to send them an updated document. You can all edit it together live, leave comments with tags and track changes any changes made in the file.
If you invite your suppliers as guest users in your team, they can equally collaborate on files and promptly respond to any changes.
All the changes will be automatically saved and can be retrieved in case a mistake was made.
Integrate any app
The great thing about Microsoft Teams is that it allows you to integrate third-party apps right into your Teams environment. This way, if your procurement team uses an industry-specific app, they can use it directly in Teams . Moreover, with Power Automate you can sync the app with Teams and receive automated posts in the specified channel regarding any activity in the app.
Purchasing process Collaboration template
If you create a team for every purchasing order you will find it quite time-consuming. Given that these teams follow the same structure with repetitive channels, tabs and files, you can automate this process by using Microsoft Teams Collaboration templates.
Templates do not only save you time and nerve on creating teams, which could otherwise be spent on dealing with suppliers. It also prevents team sprawl – an uncontrolled teams creation – by taking teams creation process under control, and allows you to set up unique governance policies, secure your data, and structure your teams.
In the example bellow you could see how Collaboration templates can work for the procurement process.
There are usually similar stages in the procurement process within a company, meaning that each of your procurement teams can have the same channels.
You can create the original team that will be used as a template and add channels that can be applied for your procurement teams.
For example, you can include such channels as:
- Quality control
- Negotiations, etc.
Files and tabs
To have your procurement team all set up for a new purchase, you can upload to your template all the necessary files that could be useful for future deals. It can be compliance documentation, regulations, contracts, lists of vendors, etc.
Moreover, you can pin the most important ones as tabs to ensure their visibility.
You can also pre-configure apps and add them as tabs in relevant channels, so that your team could get straight to work.
For example, you can add SharePoint guidelines for procurement or Planner.
In fact, Planner deserves a special mentioning as with Collaboration templates you can pre-build a ready-to-go Planner with all the tasks, checklists and attachments automatically copied into new teams. This way, you don’t need to waste your time on preparing repetitive tasks for each new team. Instead, you will have an already pre-configured task management tool.
Your team members can later on modify the tasks according to their needs.
On top of facilitating user experience in Microsoft Teams, Collaboration templates also allow you to establish advanced governance policies. Let’s have a look at some key policies.
When configuring your template, you can specify a naming convention so that every new team created from the template would be named according to the guideline. This will allow you to better organize your digital workspace and keep track of new teams.
You can also set up a convention for Office 365 group email, team description, and welcome message.
You can delegate the approval for creation of a new team to any user or even users in the organization, thus taking control of team sprawl.
This feature allows you to configure visibility of the template only to specified groups of people in your organization. For example, if you wish the Procurement template to be visible only by your procurement team in Microsoft Teams, you can arrange that in the settings.
Permanent Owners / Members
In order to make sure certain members are always included into new procurement teams, you can use the Permanent Owners and Members capability of Microsoft Teams Collaboration templates.
Additionally, permanent members will also be added to private channels within these teams, thus ensuring better control of the content shared in private channels.
There you have it, multiple possibilities for improving procurement in your organization. Interested in knowing more about Collaboration templates capabilities? Book a tailored demo for your particular use case.