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Three things procurement teams can learn from Agile start-ups

It’s common for large businesses to envy the flexibility and speed of a start-up. In practice, however, business requirements can make these characteristics difficult to emulate.

It’s like a cruise liner trying to take a turn like a speedboat – while the liner will make the turn eventually, it simply can’t do so as quickly or efficiently as the speedboat.  Even so, a cruise liner can still find efficiencies and shave time and energy off its manoeuvres by learning how faster, smaller vessels get things done.

More specifically, let’s examine what a procurement function can learn from an Agile start up. This article continues our focus on Lean/Agile procurement ahead of PASA’s Competitive Advantage Via Lean-Agile Procurement workshop, a two-day certification workshop (LAP1) taking place from 18-19 September 2019 in the Sydney CBD, facilitated by Mirko Kleiner.

1. Agile start-ups treat suppliers like partners

According to Kleiner, a common mistake made in organisations of all sizes is that external partners are treated as suppliers instead of partners; which leads to a failure to recognise the opportunities they could potentially bring. In fast-changing and complex environments, competitive advantage can be gained by companies with fast access to an ecosystem of trusted partners with matching values and an ability to contribute to your goals quickly.

What does this look like day-to-day? It might be the difference between having a relationship where communication with a supplier is restricted to formal meetings once a quarter, and a trusted partner who is more than happy to pick up the phone or answer a text whenever you need their expertise.

2. Agile start-ups are fast

No matter what they’re doing, start-ups as a rule are faster than large organisations. This is due to:

  • Their ability to execute plans immediately
  • No (or little) red tape and bureaucracy
  • Minimal internal review/stakeholder communication needed before decisions are made.
  • Their ability to pivot (adjust strategy or direction) rapidly.

In procurement organisations, time-to-market is key. Examine the hurdles or roadblocks that slow down your time-to-market, such as red tape or waiting for a decision from senior managers, then work to address these issues. For an innovative (and proven) method of speeding up time-to-market to days instead of months, consider adopting a completely new way of working with the Lean-Agile Procurement approach.

3. Agile start-ups get things done with limited resources

“I can’t do this without more team members/money!” is a much-heard catchcry in large organisations. It’s easy to fall into a mindset where big tasks require big budgets and large teams, but start-ups are able to manage without both. They do this through:

  • Ensuring everyone knows everything (no knowledge gaps or reliance on a single person)
  • Working to reduce waste (stripping documentation and processes down to the bare essentials)
  • Adopting a flexible mindset to enable rapid changes of strategy or direction.

Join PASA’s Competitive Advantage Via Lean-Agile Procurement workshop, a two-day certification workshop (LAP1) taking place from 18-19 September 2019 in the Sydney CBD.

The workshop will be facilitated by Lean-Agile Procurement’s Mirko Kleiner, Thought Leader in Lean-Agile Procurement, CIPS Award Winner 2018, international Speaker, Author, President of LAP Alliance, co-founder Flowdays, Agile Enterprise Coach, Certified Scrum@Scale Trainer. Register here.

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