Procurement and problem solving with EY
We created a time saving solution for procurement managers across the globe. In the process, we found a way of using data to unlock huge insight potential for EY. Here we share our approach and the learnings we gained along the way.
Procurement managers have access to a LOT of information. From user stats to trend data, companies depend on them to provide valuable insights that shape critical business decisions. Historically, for procurement managers across EY’s global client base, the process of recording, analysing and presenting this information was performed manually. Each individual had their unique way of doing things and a brain jam-packed with information. So, whenever a procurement manager changed roles or left the company, they took all that knowledge with them. Not an ideal scenario!
EY approached us to find a simpler way of managing all this data. They knew there was a better way of doing things. But, they didn’t know how to find it.
With significant experience in stripping back complex processes, we relished the opportunity to dive into this project. Our approach to managing projects of this scale is very much people-led. We know that a cohesive, collaborative team is a winning team so we made sure everyone was involved, felt included and was heard throughout the project. This was a key ingredient to success!
Our extensive expertise in creating clever technology helped too…
What we did
First, we set about doing our homework. The research phase kicked off with an intensive workshop where we started identifying the biggest challenges procurement managers faced day to day. There were many contenders but through shared discussion and user journey mapping we identified the biggest problem we needed to solve.
Procurement managers needed a way of extracting meaningful insights from their information.
We knew that the best way to test the viability of a new data management tool was by building a prototype that provided a visual and interactive interface. Prototypes are useful because they allow a user to play around with a concept and provide real-time suggestions for improvement. We started with some high level wireframes that detailed a rough view of the ‘ideal’ procurement management process.
Because of the short timeframe in which to deliver a workable product, we progressed with the design and development phases in parallel. This meant that as soon as a prototyping phase was complete, that piece of functionality could go straight to development. We achieved a fully workable tool within just six weeks.
At this point, we brought our EY stakeholders back together and shared the tool with them for feedback. Because we had kept everyone involved and informed throughout the design and development phase, there were no surprises! From experience we have learnt that keeping stakeholders actively involved throughout the process is key.
During the design phase, we used out of the box prototyping software to test our concepts with real users. Sketch and Invision are interactive prototyping tools that helped us get on the spot feedback from users as they went through testing. This was vital to the project’s success.
The biggest challenge for our team was understanding the procurement strategy in detail. We spent a lot of time gawping at large sets of data and worked with the EY team to cleanse and segment it to be clear on the type of output they needed. Whilst we used open source project management tools like Trello and Github, we found that the best tool was human interaction. Meeting face to face, having regular discussions and cultivating an open and inclusive environment were the key drivers of success.
The feedback we received from procurement managers who tested the tool was fantastic. They were excited that it had the potential to enforce the value of their role within the company.
- It saves them time
- It’s automated their processes
- Increases their output
- Enables better insights
- Allows them to benchmark and compare data
- It’s streamlined their entire workflow
- It also minimises risk to the team when a procurement manager leaves the business
At the beginning of the project, some procurement managers were concerned that the technology would make them redundant in their value. One of the best pieces of feedback we’ve received is that the opposite is true and they are more empowered now to turn data into valuable insights for the business, and have the potential to be more efficient and effective than ever. Their jobs are guaranteed to be more enjoyable as a result!
This is a wonderful example of how technology is complementary to human skills, experience and aptitude.
Now that the tool has been developed and signed off, the next step is getting funding to release it into the business. We’re confident that the immense value this tool will add to the procurement team and the business is clear to all.
Client Partner Account Manager, Luiz, says, “Our continued partnership with EY is the result of a shared investment of time, willingness and open communication. We’ve built a culture of mutual trust and this is a huge determining factor in our shared success”.