Procurement Fire-Eating Act: Part of the Circus of Efficiency Under the Workflow Automation Big Top

By | Published February 26, 2024

As part of HI&I’s circus analogy for process improvement, you are welcome to explore your procurement process within the greatest show of streamlined operations! Efficiency is the main attraction, and workflow automation is the ringmaster.

We talked previously about the juggling of efficiency in operations and will take a deeper dive this time into the performance of the procurement fire-eaters. We will discuss the transformation of the procurement process into a mesmerizing act where fire is quenched with precision and efficiency with the aid of workflow automation.

The Procurement Process

The procurement world operates under a big top of intricate operations, and the circus analogy mirrors the diverse elements within the procurement process. The procurement department, buyers, approvers, and executives are constantly presented with another flaming rod of requests that they must either extinguish or move to the next performer. Every day, someone starts a procurement process with “I need something.” The flames are high as that single word “something” can be so many different products, services, or supplies. How is the procurement process supposed to manage the hot pokers? 

Much like a circus act relies on a ringmaster to guide the performance; businesses can turn to workflow automation as their ringmaster for procurement processes. As the requests enter the arena, the system begins to help the procurement department manage the incoming line of flames. Computer or electronic equipment? Route to IT. Notebooks, pens, pencils? Send to an administrative assistant. Consultant needed to help with a project? Move on to subcontracts. A request becomes more manageable when workflow automation is at the center of it all.

Part of managing the incoming requests is making sure they are complete. Unlike the perfect balance of flaming marshmallow and flame, too often, an incomplete and hardly helpful request comes via email. “I need a new computer” does not translate well into getting the right machine for the right tasks for the right person. Specifications may need to be added. Across many businesses with a centralized buying function, any request is immediately considered valid simply because it exists in someone’s inbox. A fire eater has seconds to decide how to place the fire in their mouth, and timing is everything. The red-hot need for stuff is starting to age even though the buyer doesn’t have what they need to make the purchase. Measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of a process that can’t really get started is impractical, just like the number of times not being burned should not be a measure of success for the fire-eater.

Measuring Efficiency with Automation

Reducing throughput can be a good measure of your Return on Investment for a system or a process implementation. Procurement should be no different. Knowing when to start the clock is sometimes the bigger challenge. A fire-eater has about 5 seconds to cleanse the mouth and ensure they are prepared for the next fiery treat. In procurement, decisions can take a bit longer than a few seconds. Those decisions can be streamlined by ensuring consistency in a request and ensuring every requester answers the same questions every time a request is made. Similarly, the clock should only start running once the request is acceptable for procurement to work on. You wouldn’t want the fire-eater in the circus to swallow an incendiary substance, and you shouldn’t expect your procurement team to work with incomplete information.

Much like the decision to swallow your first flaming marshmallow that leads to a life under the big top, what is acceptable to one may not be to someone else. This is where the ringmaster comes into play. By defining what is acceptable in terms of a request and what is required to be deemed complete, the process builder working with the workflow automation tool can help to refine the process further. A request doesn’t come through the system without having specific required information in a required format. It doesn’t go for approval from a random person; it is directed there through a series of rules. The request moves forward when it passes through a gate and backward when it doesn’t have the necessary information or approval.

Mastering fire eating is achieved when a master fire eater passes on the skill to another fire eater. The key is not to get burned or to limit missteps. Similarly, procurement nirvana can occur when someone who has seen numerous procurement methodologies and approval processes can weigh in on best practices and build a controlled process. Herbert Insights & Innovations has that past experience. Ultimately, the grand finale is not just about successfully completing the procurement fire-eating act; it's about leaving the audience in awe, inspired by the precision, coordination, and seamless execution of procurement tasks.

The Final Act

As the curtain falls on the circus of streamlined operations big top, businesses are left with a crucial encore – the integration of cutting-edge tools like Integrify. Just as the master juggler and ringmaster rely on precision and skill, Integrify is the powerhouse that propels your business processes into a league of their own. At Herbert Insights & Innovations, we stand ready to be your guide in this circus of operational excellence. Wherever you're stepping into the big top, our team is dedicated to helping you define, build, and refine your business processes. Let the applause ring through the air as your organization, equipped with the mastery of streamlined processes and the power of Integrify, takes a bow on the stage of unparalleled success. Step right up, and let's create a performance worth remembering!

Marty is the President and Founder of Herbert Insights and Innovations, an Integrify partner. HI&I, empowers their clients to thrive by solving complexity and delivering simplicity. HI&!'s experience in technical and practical accounting, compliance, and business management knowledge delivers innovative solutions and expert guidance that harnesses the power of data, technology, regulatory compliance, and strategic thinking.