The past year-plus has provided a lot of challenges for businesses of all types, but there are few (if any) sectors where that's more true than in procurement. Supply chains were snarled, deliveries pushed back or canceled outright and headaches became increasingly common. Now, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to wane nationwide, procurement pros need to consider how they can put their best foot forward for the second half of 2021 — and beyond.

The first thing you may want to think about on this front is which of your processes still rely on manual efforts, which have been automated, and how those efforts have worked out, according to Supply & Demand Chain Executive. If you've been able to seamlessly integrate automated processes into your long-standing operation in the past, now is certainly the time to look at what else you may be able to transition.

A great procurement department helps your entire organization get ahead.A great procurement department helps your entire organization get ahead.

Many supply chain executives say that they are planning to automate as much as possible within the next few years, so it would be wise to start tackling that initiative sooner than later, the report said. When you do so, you begin to realize the benefits of automation even earlier than you might have initially planned, meaning that your return on that investment starts building more quickly.

Finding the wiggle room
Of course, it hasn't always been easy to get the budget approvals to increase your automation efforts, but the COVID crisis seems to have created a unique opportunity on this front, according to EPS News. The supply chain slowdowns seen in the past 18 months or so drew a stark contrast for those outside the procurement department in terms of the value of your team's efforts, and you would be wise to leverage that new understanding into a bigger budget and more discretion in investments.

No one knows better than you what kind of technology will allow your procurement team to confidently step into the post-COVID world, and if you can make your case effectively — perhaps by focusing on the importance of transparency and collaboration — you'll be in great shape, the report said. When you can help other departments feel as though they really understand the procurement department in a new way, your goals are far easier to achieve.

Under one roof
Along similar lines, now is the time to consolidate the power of the procurement department, according to The Tech Report. Too often, companies may have a procurement team that is not in charge of all procurement efforts, leading to disconnects and inefficiency even beyond the lack of automated processes. If you can bring everything your company does on this front under the purview of a single dedicated team, everyone is in a better position to succeed.

When you can take positive steps of any kind toward a more cohesive and efficient procurement effort, you will be ready to take that next step forward with greater ease. That, in turn, will help to further highlight the value of your team and improve your standing within the company going forward.

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