Top tips to encourage supply chain innovation

Gurjit Degun
7 May 2014

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8 May 2014 | Gurjit Degun in Las Vegas, US

Prioritising new ideas based on need, appointing “innovation champions” and providing metrics can help procurement teams encourage new ideas both internally and from suppliers.

A panel discussion on the topic at the Institute for Supply Management annual conference in Las Vegas, US, highlighted some top tips for driving innovation.

Criteria and metrics. “As you think about what you’re asking for, give them some parameters as it helps them to know that ‘I’d like you to submit ideas around project x’,” said Jill Bossi, former CPO at the American Red Cross.

• Prioritisation. Bossi said procurement professionals should prioritise ideas based on their organisational needs. She added: “While consensus is certainly an enemy of innovation, at the same time you have to figure out which ones are the ones to go after.”

Project charters. “That is a way to clarify and record the requirements you have around that innovation so that it sees the light of day, and the attention and the help to get going forward,” she explained.

Innovation champions. Bossi encouraged delegates to select an executive who is willing to champion an idea “to ensure that it gets all the resources that are necessary to have it become a success within your organisation”.

Create innovation teams. The panel agreed procurement leaders should allow teams to come together and “simply brainstorm”.

Document processes and results. “As you move forward other people can look at the innovations that your teams were able to come up with and they can learn from those and develop their own innovation,” added Bossi.

Feedback. Tom Maher, vice president for global service parts at Dell, said that he found giving feedback regardless of whether an idea is taken forward has helped increase innovation. His team tries to provide feedback within 30 days.

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