This is the second post in a monthly series titled HOTS, which stands for "Heard on the Street." In this series, we'll talk about what we're hearing from our customers as well as the broader enterprise procurement community. You can read the previous HOTS post here.
Procrastination came up in an informal conversation with a customer this month. Someone shared this Oscar Wilde quote - "I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after.” And we went on from there for a few minutes (were we procrastinating?).
We talked specifically about the challenges that the procurement department faces, given that it is subject to the procrastination tendencies of so many internal and external stakeholders. A few insights from that conversation stuck with me, and I wanted to share them more broadly, so here we are.
1. We procrastinate when the task at hand is mundane
There are several regular tasks that procurement professionals have to complete every single day. Following up with colleagues, getting status updates from vendors, collecting and organizing vendor forms and documents - this list could go for days. These tasks tend to distract procurement professionals from getting the really important stuff done (realizing and tracking cost savings, building long-term relationships with key suppliers). One potential solution - automate the routine tasks and leave more time for the important stuff. This is one of our primary goals at ZenPurchase. We believe that offloading mundane tasks will result in a more engaged, more productive procurement workforce.
2. We procrastinate when the deadline seems far away
In our conversation, someone brought up that vendors often seem to leave RFP responses to the last minute and expressed a strong preference for early submissions. But yet early submissions rarely happen. Many of us may believe that we work better under time pressure, but research suggests otherwise. One potential solution - break up the project at hand into smaller pieces and think about who is best equipped to complete each piece. Bring them all in...and do it early.
3. We regularly prioritize "urgent" tasks over important tasks
This is related to #1 above - the number of "urgent" tasks that procurement professionals have to get done seems to have increased rapidly. It turns out - many of these tasks distract us from the important tasks that are longer-term, and this pushes us into a destructive cycle where we are forced to delay important tasks until they too become urgent, and then we don't have enough time to put forth our best effort on the work that really matters. One potential solution - reduce the volume of "urgent" tasks and leave yourself more time for the important tasks.
While we have a long way to go in solving the procrastination problem, it is clearly a topic that is on our customers' minds. We have taken initial steps at solving this issue for Procurement departments, helping them move faster and improving effectiveness.
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