How to Make Annual Procurement Budget Planning Effective and Easy
From October to late December, procurement teams are immersed in the annual budgeting and planning that comes with preparing for the coming year’s projects. It’s not the most exciting job responsibility, but it’s a necessary one.
It’s important that budgets connect with the overall business strategy, go-to-market roadmap, and financial and non-financial performance goals. And as the past few years and current conditions remind us, Procurement should also consider how economic uncertainties, unpredictable supply chain disruptions, and workforce challenges will affect how projects unfold.
Using regular interactions with our clients, one of our great customer success managers, Marie-Gersande Cormoreche, has put together a list of budgeting best practices. Based on her analysis, here are five best practices for procurement teams to consider during this annual process.
1. What does today reveal about tomorrow?
Budgeting without considering the current reality of organizational spend is called setting a goal. With the addition of inflation and scarcity, you need to carry a certain degree of precision to your budgeting decisions or invite questions about your team’s ability to control organizational costs a year later.
First, leaders need to identify spend trends and use them to carefully project cost savings. The key word here is carefully. Don’t presuppose cost savings for the upcoming year; look at spend trends over the past few months and be realistic about what they mean.
Has order volume increased? Is this the result of inflation? Is there a contract opportunity here that no one has taken advantage of? Getting reliable answers to relevant questions will reveal where you can rely on cost savings and where you need to prepare for increased costs.
Secondly, Procurement needs to know where the organization is spending instead of simply assuming. With the spread out nature of spend data, achieving spend visibility can be difficult, but there’s no way to form reliable procurement budgets without it. The shift towards real-time visibility will also allow the function to prioritize key initiatives while shifting funds away from less important expenses. But if Procurement doesn’t place importance on knowing it’s spend profile, budgeting will equate to taking shots in the dark.
- Centralized data
- Trend identification
- Enterprise-level visibility
2. Spreadsheets: The bad habit Procurement needs to quit
Successful Procurement budgets are about more than filling numbers into a table. They’re highly strategic documents that come from planning the projects and contracts that will allow your projected numbers to work. Unfortunately, many procurement teams use budgeting tools like spreadsheets to plan and track these projects, and it’s limiting their impact.
Launching your desktop spreadsheet app or Google sheet and getting to work entering project data is tempting, especially if that’s your organization’s status quo. But the problems that come with managing procurement projects in these tools are well known.
At a basic level, spreadsheets simply aren’t built for tracking procurement projects. They can quickly become hard to read and easy to misinterpret. Then you’ll have the issue of stakeholders and procurement team members downloading their own copies.
A few weeks later, you’ll have to reconcile 10 variations of the original ‘template’ after more people have saved and modified it to create their plans. Even after you’ve resolved these variations, the “non-official” files will still be around, meaning you still won’t have a single source of truth. Add all these issues together and spreadsheets present a serious data loss risk.
But with a procurement performance management solution, you’ll have a standardized, central, and secure destination for entering planned projects. The best part is that it exists specifically for Procurement. Now your team can just as easily enter project information as they could in these spreadsheet files, but all the details will be easily accessible in one cloud-based application.
- Time savings
- Data accuracy
3. Are you leveraging what you’ve done in the past?
Many find themselves starting their procurement budgets from scratch every year, even if they’re working on projects with a history. If you’re in this situation, you’re devoting time to hunting down old information and juggling multiple contracts and apps to integrate important information into your plan. Not only is this process inefficient, it also creates severe knowledge gaps.
However, if you start the budgeting process by using existing contract data to fill in recurring expenses, you’ll give yourself a head start and streamline the entire process. The key to succeeding with this strategy is to keep all of your contracts and documents in one place so they’re accessible and easy to identify.
This means going beyond hosting them in a shared Google Drive with carefully named folders. A reliable Strategic Procurement Platform aggregates this information and ties it to vendors, projects, categories, and subcategories so you and your team members can find and leverage relevant documents in a few clicks.
- More robust plans
- Improved goal setting Reduced risk of cost savings left behind
- Cross-department collaboration
- Time savings
4. Does everyone understand the goals?
Once you’ve identified the opportunities you want to capitalize on and what it will take to do so, you’re ready to set your goals (overall and at a project level). This should be a straightforward process, but communication breakdowns can easily get in the way.
The challenge here is that silos and decentralization make it easy to leave team members out of important conversations. Add spreadsheets, low spend visibility, and confusing project management processes into the mix and prioritization can become difficult. The result is often underwhelming performance when it’s analyzed against projected budgets a year later.
SpendHQ customers have found that this is an easy problem to solve with administrative features that can “lock” your objectives once validated. (Other PPM solutions may approach this in different ways). You can also pin goals in dashboards, which you can customize to show different roles in Procurement and Finance the information that’s most relevant to them. As you track progress, you can see how well the forecast is tracking against those goals and then what the actual outcomes were upon each project’s completion.
- Reduced risks to goals
- Improved forecasting and adjustments with Finance
5. The best-laid plans must be adaptable
No plan ever executes at 100% accuracy. So, building strong budgets means acknowledging that there will be a need to pivot and continue providing value in spite of unforeseen circumstances.
Maintaining a healthy pipeline of qualified project ideas and opportunities keeps new value readily accessible throughout the year, especially if you fall short of your current-year objectives. With SpendHQ’s tools, you’ll have a centralized location where you can add, review, and collaboratively prioritize such opportunities. Then you can easily promote them to your action plan at any time.
Maintaining spend visibility with regular data refreshes adds an always-stocked arsenal of opportunities as well. Circumstances are bound to change throughout the year and impact projects’ feasibility and deployment timelines. But if your team has a way to monitor how spend trends develop over time, you’ll be well-prepared to dig into your spend profile and find new initiatives to pursue no matter what situation arises.
- Reduced risks to goals
- Improved resiliency and speed to handle changes
- Never-ending access to opportunities
6. Procurement planning shouldn’t be an island
There’s nothing worse than working hard on something only to find out that it doesn’t move the needle. However, planning and budgeting without stakeholder input puts you at risk of doing just that. So how do you best facilitate that transparency at the right time, in the right format, and with the right level of detail?
Structuring your plans in a procurement performance management solution immediately introduces transparency by giving stakeholders on-demand access to your planned projects. You can direct them to the information most relevant to them, collect feedback through the tool, and even enable them to add new projects directly. Doing so allows Procurement and other key departments to align around priorities, which enables projects that actually impact the company’s bottom line.
- Strengthened organizational alignment and cooperation
- Improved goal outcomes
We know that setting annual procurement budgets is becoming more complex with the increase in global supply chain risk, ESG considerations, inflation, and economic fluctuation. Now more than ever, leadership expects you to do more with less.
However, these additional considerations don’t have to make effective annual planning impossible. SpendHQ’s Strategic Procurement Platform facilitates a simpler budget planning process so teams can focus on initiatives that will move the need and plan projects that drive EBITDA improvements.
But don’t just take our word for it. Click the button below to schedule a demo and see the ways that our solution can transform how you extract and execute on strategic procurement initiatives.