Automation in procurement: Your new workforce is here
Automation in procurement: Your new workforce is here
Insight

Automation in procurement: Your new workforce is here

Five steps procurement organizations can take to create a partnership between bots and employees to achieve efficiency and quantifiable benefits

Your new procurement employee will work 24/7, never call in sick, rarely make mistakes, won’t complain, and never ask for a raise. Of course, this is not your typical worker, but a procurement software robot—or “bot.”

In many ways, bots are part of a natural development of the workforce, just as assembly lines and mechanical automation improved the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing. But success will only come if humans can see bots as their partners, not as competitors. Given employee and stakeholder concerns around bots, it is essential that companies pursue a comprehensive change management program to develop strategy for both the larger business picture and the welfare of their workforce.

In this paper, we look at the growing use of software bots by today’s forward-thinking companies and outline how bots can work within the procurement organization. We also offer five steps procurement officers should take to facilitate the success of a bot implementation.

The bots are coming

Like every transformative technology, the implementation of procurement bots, while exciting, is not without challenges,

Since these bots will directly affect the procurement workforce, the chief fear among workers is that their jobs will be eliminated. Businesses have been through many cycles where such concerns were raised: reengineering, ERP implementation, outsourcing, among others.

However, because the implementation of bots is new to the procurement organization — and is futuristic-sounding — many employees do not know quite what to make of it, only intensifying their apprehension.

Given these concerns around bots, it is essential that companies pursue a comprehensive change management program to develop the best strategy for both the larger business picture and the welfare of their workforce.

This change management program must begin with leadership and include all stakeholders throughout the organization. Transparency is also crucial, so employees can understand the extent of the changes bots will bring and how their day-to-day activities will be different in the future.

Employees must be shown the benefits bots can bring to their jobs. For example, one of the main selling points of procurement bots is that they will free workers from repetitive, manual tasks. Moreover, the automation of a myriad of existing procurement processes will provide the opportunity for companies to invest in the development of their personnel outside of their current responsibilities.

These new capabilities may include the management of the new automated processes that have replaced manual processes or a move into a more creative position, one with fewer tedious or mundane tasks.

While the displacement of workers will not necessarily be a part of every implementation of bots, it is inevitable that the transition to a highly automated procurement organization will likely result in the elimination of several classes of jobs. In these instances, companies must demonstrate that affected employees are supported and treated fairly.

The impact of procurement bots on business stakeholders should be considered as well. Will those stakeholders fear that procurement professionals they regularly work with will no longer be there? Will working with a bot require them to learn how to use new software?

To gain a better understanding of these issues, we will look at the growing use of software bots by today’s forward-thinking companies and outline how bots can work within the procurement organization. We will also offer five steps procurement officers should take to facilitate the success of a bot implementation.

In many ways, bots are part of a natural development of the workforce, just as assembly lines and mechanical automation improved the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing. But success will only come if humans can see bots as their partners, not as competitors.

To learn more, download the PDF below.

Automation in procurement: Your new workforce is here
Explore five steps procurement organizations can take to create a partnership between bots and employees to achieve efficiency and quantifiable benefits.