When you are working in the supply chain, you're usually juggling 100 different things at the same time, and it's not always easy to see the many different decisions that go into making your procurement processes successful. For that reason, you need to be able to keep a steady hand on the tiller even when things get difficult, and it starts by going back to basics to truly take control over your overall strategy.

The following ideas should help you strip everything down and truly understand the nuts and bolts of mastering a procurement plan:

1) Set benchmarks for all the data you can track

As an organization, you likely track a lot of different data all the time, but you have to understand what it means and where it should be in an ideal scenario, Accenture. The more you can do to set standards and track key performance indicators on an ongoing basis, the more comprehensive your look at what your procurement efforts are getting right, and where you need to make improvements.

2) Track more data

Part and parcel with the above advice, this business is certainly one in which it's very easy to find yourself in a situation where you just "don't know what you don't know," Accenture added. If you're not looking at all the data you possibly can that's pertinent to your overall procurement strategy, there's always going to be some fumbling around in the dark.

Is everyone involved truly aligned with your procurement needs?Is everyone involved truly aligned with your procurement needs?

3) Look to improve your relationships

Want to get more data and other benefits when it comes to dealing with your current supply chain partners? You should do more to bolster your relationships with them, according to industry expert Matthew Sparkes, speaking at a conference in London, as quoted by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. Go to them with a proposal that says, "Help me help you," and try to align your goals and various aspects of your operations for greater success.

4) Always be in touch

You never want to be in a situation where you're not sure what's going on with a supply chain partner, so setting the expectation that you should be in regular communication is a must, Sparkes said. This helps ensure everyone has the same expectations for how the collaboration will go for as long as the partnerships last.

5) Collaborate across all departments

Just as you are doing more to collaborate externally, you should also do the same within your own company, according to marketing expert Greg Uhrlen, writing for LinkedIn. If you don't have a dedicated procurement department to tackle everything your company needs, you might find yourself missing out on opportunities to save money or streamline ordering, so it's better to get everything under one umbrella.

6) Leverage the right systems

Finally, as time goes on and your business processes change and evolve, you would be wise to make sure the various software offerings you utilize in your procurement processes are meeting your needs, Uhrlen advised. A regular assessment of what's working and what isn't could help you find new areas of investment that unlock even more efficiency.

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