Thought Leadership

Ivalua NOW Part 2 – Re-Imagining Offices and Transforming Procurement

At last week’s Ivalua NOW virtual event, Jon Stevens, President of JLL Digital, delivered the first keynote. JLL is a long-established global real estate services provider and manager, with revenues approaching $20 billion. Stevens runs the side of the business that is working on new digitally-driven initiatives, and he had two main themes.

He talked about the JLL Marketplace, which the firm offers to its clients and firms occupying the buildings it manages. This, he said, was an example of using procurement to drive competitive advantage and revenue. By building the marketplace, which is powered by Ivalua technology, JLL’s technology and procurement skills are leveraged for the benefits of their customers. The platform offers simple ordering and invoicing, and advanced analytics to help people spend better. “Technology should enable business innovation, not stifle it”.

His other theme concerned how JLL is preparing for countries and individuals getting back to work and back into their offices. This was fascinating, as he outlined how work and offices are being “re-imagined” right now, with technology again playing a huge role. Post crisis, “the office will be primarily for collaboration, not individual work” and we will see an acceleration of all the digitisation already underway. JLL have been rethinking their own global supply chains, even partnering to set up a whole new hand sanitiser facility when sourcing that item became difficult!

Office design will have to offer more privacy and separation, yet support the collaboration angle too. There will be more flexible work schedules and locations, along with a hyper-focus on health and safety. For instance, moving air around a building will include purifying, not just circulating. Entry control and many other processes will be touchless; think facial recognition everywhere, and the “touchless restroom” as well as temperature screening facilities for staff.

Back to the marketplace – JLL chose Ivalua because of the cultural fit between the firms as well as the strong focus on customer experience, innovation, and data, which matched the JLL philosophy. “The solution helps the building manager get everything they need in the post pandemic real estate world”, from thermo scanners and air filtering to single use food products and specialised signage.

The final keynote of the day came from Mike Kalmar, describing the procurement transformation he led as SVP of Procurement and Supply Chain Management at Rogers Communication, the huge Canadian telecoms / media firm (it also owns most of the professional sports teams in Toronto!).

He gave some really useful experienced-based insight into managing a transformation. Firstly, he said, it is important to get a strong baseline or starting point so you can track progress. He asked stakeholders and procurement staff where they thought the firm was in terms of procurement maturity. Most thought 6 or 7, but Mike thought it was more like 3 or 4! (Which left me wondering if perhaps you should use some sort of external verification when doing baselining.

Forrester developed one available on Ivalua’s website at no cost for anyone interested). He believes that you must “come with a clear procurement value proposition”. If you do that, you shouldn’t need to push so hard for your positioning – people will come to you.

His long-term vision is a digitally enabled self-serve model for users, with hands-on support when needed and full ”procurement oversight”. He focused initially on sourcing and category management, because that would give the biggest return on investment as the firm moved from contract administration, to tactical sourcing, to true CatMan and strategic sourcing.

Simplification of systems and tools was a key part of the programme. Rogers had no less than 10 (!) different systems across the procurement cycle when Kalmar arrived, which required users to practice “swivel chairing” across different systems. They moved to just one – Ivalua, of course. That also brought additional functionality in new areas such as risk, and supplier performance. “We were impressed with the breadth of the solution, its flexibility, the user experience, and the focus Ivalua demonstrates”.

The human aspect is another challenge. Kalmar started by defining the new organisation, going for something “simple and stable – stakeholders need to understand it”. He personally interviewed everyone who joined his team, believing that personal quality control was essential as this was such a critical success factor. “I was less dogmatic about specific experience but looked for broader skills and the right attitude”.

He gave us four final takeaways:

  • Investment in digital capability is necessary to achieve sustainable strategic sourcing, which delivers the return on investment.
  • Be clear on the current situation, prioritise digital investments and initiate these early in the transformation programme.
  • Focus on people – listen to the actual users of tools ad involve them in decision making.
  • Involve key interface organisations (IT, legal etc) in the programme, be clear on accountabilities, and simplify wherever possible.

In the delegate Q and A session, he also suggested that procurement transformation is probably “a four-year journey”. So, it is important to get your technology right; but don’t expect miracles overnight!

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