Apps have been booming for personal use for a long time but the use of mobile apps for business also continues to grow. Although the development and upgrades can in some cases be costly for the company (usually only if they are built in the wrong way), mobile apps are becoming a powerful way to conduct many business tasks, including procurement and supply chain functions. Today there are several companies offering a platform that enables employees (not just the procurement department) to compare, shop, and place requests or purchase orders.
But is the mobile market too focused on transactions? Are the pioneers of procurement apps only concentrating on tactical, commoditized procurement, and its associated functional mind-set?
What about strategy, risk management and opportunities? These are a critical part of the sourcing process as well – even more so for a growing number dynamic and mobile category managers and strategic purchasers. Would it not be great to be able to use mobile platforms also for the strategic and more knowledge focused parts of the category management process? While mobile phone solutions are very suitable for quick transactional approvals and supply chain following-ups, the strategic tools could have a place with light travel hardware like tablets and Ultrabooks alike.
So what would an app that would do this need to be like? What would be the key criteria in developing a successful business tool? Three important characteristics come to mind:
- Simplicity: The best technology is useless unless it is being put to use. If one cannot convince colleagues and stakeholders to adopt the new technology, it will not serve the process of creating a strategy, managing risks or for example planning a negotiation. So making it simple is key to success and since most business processes are not rocket science that is possible with the right skill set
- Responsiveness: What fascinates me about mobile apps is their ability to push information to users when on the go. Usage of apps is often associated with being able to update and be updated when we or our stakeholders do not have access to a computer or office. An app should be able to connect the right people with each other to make work more efficient, create stronger bonds and why not fun at the same time. The ability to have people provide input on a strategy on their tablet while on the go is a great opportunity to make the process faster and make better use of peoples time.
- Quality of output: In today’s world, everybody needs to be a bit of a salesperson, even procurement. When presenting strategies and negotiation plans, the materials need to engage the viewer with a story, vision and clear steps towards the goal. Nothing is more frustrating than a 50 page power point, so concentrate on a single page view. Key stakeholders must be convinced that there is value added from purchasing without having to work too much to understand what is being presented. Apps can facilitate a fast way to generate quality output and share it with the whole organization.
At Progorex we have taken the first steps towards facilitating strategy development with mobile apps. We have developed several tools together with our customers, to serve as easy and effective ways for organising your portfolio, identifying procurement opportunities and planning negotiations. The first run of our technology has received a warm and enthusiastic welcome from all levels in the organization, and we believe that our view on characteristics of a successful procurement tool has something to do with that.
Tickle your interest? If you want to be the next in starting something new and exciting with us, contact us for more details on our interactive procurement apps?