6 reasons to use a PLM to digitize and automate your sourcing processes

reasons to digitize your sourcing

6 reasons to use a PLM to digitize and automate your sourcing processes

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reasons to digitize your sourcing

Digital sourcing has been a growing trend in 2017, and is not about to stop. It doesn’t matter the industry your company is active in, the competitive landscape has been changing and digitalisation of processes is an answer to the threat. Because digitizing your sourcing strategy means leaner processes and shorter lead-time, it’s 2018 answer to maintaining your margins against your competitors.

If digitization appears like one of the main procurement trends of the year, it’s first and foremost because of the efficiency gains it allows. However, “these benefits will accrue only if sourcing organizations embrace a shift in mindset and take a true end-to-end perspective” (McKinsey, September 2017).

Sourcing industry future

Digitization: The next stop for the apparel-sourcing caravan, McKinsey, 2017

Here are 6 reasons why you should board the digital sourcing train as well and start looking for a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) solution to automate and streamline your processes.

1. Streamline your processes, and achieve shorter lead-times

Implementing a digital and automated sourcing strategy shortens the buying lifecycle. By centralizing informations and data in a cloud-based system, they are accessible to all the concerned parties within the organisation, but also to external partners when needed. Until now, the better part of product sourcing happened via emails and spreadsheets. If it’s already an improvement when compared to fax-machines, pushing the transformation further allows to save even more time.

Product Lifecycle Management systems have been around for a while, but they are more than often heavy to implement and expensive. The future of sourcing lies within light cloud-based PLMs, that are accessible to anyone without technical knowledge or heavy budget.

In addition to centralizing data and making it available in real time, PLMs allow to automate workflows and processes. Not only does that mean saving time by freeing your sourcing team of some trivial daily tasks, but also to increase decision-making speed and therefore decreases lead-time.

2. Increase your margins

Increasing the buying decision speed means reducing the average buying cycle. That time saving then leads to a shorter time-to-market, which can in turn become a competitive advantage, as being the first to market means being able to fix the price, ergo the margins. Cloud based collaborative tools also allow for better employee productivity. “Do more with less” is not only about cutting costs, it’s about re-allocating manpower time to higher adding value or strategic tasks.

3. Reduce errors stemming from repetitive tasks

Daily follow up tasks, such as requesting price quotations and updating product ideas with the suppliers’ answers, do not only take time. They are also a common source of mistakes, as they are performed in high quantity.

Automating these aspects of the purchasing cycle, with a system that allows to notify automatically the right task owner or supplier reduces the chances of error.

4. Simplify your suppliers’ relationships and data transmission


According to Spendmatters, the lowest level of automation was supplier relationship management in 2016. The trend is shifting though, in the apparel sourcing industry for example, supplier collaboration and development is amongst the top three priorities of 81% (September 2017) of respondents.

Key levers in apparel sourcing to respond to macro trends and shifting demand

Suppliers’ relationship are often chaotic and extremely time consuming for buying teams, as there are countless back and forth between the first contact, the price quotation requests, the sample management, and purchasing orders and quality control. If the latter can be outsourced, the firsts can benefit from the emergence of digital platforms directly connecting buyers and their selected suppliers.

5. Implement clear processes for everyone and make better purchasing decisions

Using a PLM with workflows and processes automations allows their implementation  throughout the entire organisation. It enhances accountability by clearly defining roles and responsibilities, and motivation through the setup of SMART goals (time to market, products per categories, catalogue renewal percentage…).

Finally, automated workflows result in better purchasing decisions, as they make sure approval procedures are respected.

6. Access improved analytics to improve control and compliance

buying team analytics

Without surprise for the professionals of the industry, digitization through the right PLM means easily accessing analytics and raising transparency of all the buying activities, therefore raising control and compliance.

Centralisation of the data means keeping them safe in one place and being able to use them to identify possible bottlenecks. Hence, analyse global team efficiency and raise productivity.

“Digitization is not an end in itself. Rather, it’s a powerful enabler of progress in all the main drivers of future success.” (McKinsey, 2017)

Whether you’ve just started considering the benefits of digital sourcing, or you already have some measures of automation and digitization set up, now is the time to take it further. From faster product lead-time, to reduced errors, enhanced control, higher transparency, simplified suppliers’ relationships, and retaining your margins, digital sourcing will have effects on every aspects of your sourcing in 2018.


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