The Digital Procurement Journey with Coupa Software’s VP in Northern Europe, Eric Brown – Episode 51


Episode show notes

“Sustainability needs to be a priority, and that starts at the top.”

Digital procurement transformation is a perpetual journey, and with the growing importance of ESG initiatives it’s key now to ensure these initiatives come from the very top level to maximise your organisation’s value.

This week’s guest on Talent Talks is Coupa’s Vice President in Northern Europe, Eric Brown, who shares how increasing visibility within e-procurement processes allows more stakeholders to put sustainability first, when exactly the right time is to invest in digital procurement, and how we can continue elevating the profession.

This episode of Talent Talks covers:

  • Choosing the right time to invest in digital procurement for growth
  • The increasing focus on compliance and risk management
  • Achieving ESG goals by ensuring it’s embedded at the top
  • Refining outdated digital processes on procurement’s tech journey
  • How we can continue to elevate the profession & its impact at board level
  • Cutting wastage in processes to help both shareholders and ESG goals

The Talent Talks Podcast is proudly sponsored by Barkers Commercial Consultancy. Barkers are a multi-award-winning ethical, procurement consultancy offering specialist services including cost and procurement transformation, contract lifecycle management, procurement managed services, bid writing services and digital procurement

Episode highlights

“There’s two groups of companies. The first group is companies experiencing rapid growth, and looking at all the growth levers. So first of all how do they scale their operations, globalisation, FTE cost avoidance to support that growth. A lot of them are also looking at preparing for Public Market exits. The second group is companies that are more mature and have a steady state or slow growth top line, and those are companies looking to optimize their current processes.” – 2:15 – Eric Brown

“I think about shareholder value in two contexts. The first is if it’s a publicly held organisation, you truly do have shareholders that are owners of the company, and obligations to maximise the value to those shareholders. The other thing I look at is, within the private markets and potentially VC or private equity kind of ownership, maximising the value back to those organisations based on the goals of those organisations. So we can also dissect it within private equity and venture capital, what are the outcomes for those different groups, and then ensure that the company’s value is being delivered for the goals of that ownership.” – 6:45 – Eric Brown

“The other piece is about getting more information about the supplier, not only delivery times so I can really start to rate a supplier’s ability to perform, but also capturing the information like like carbon and local sourcing and things that I can start to then tag at a supplier level and say, ‘These are things that are important to me’.” – 11:35 – Eric Brown

“Sustainability needs to be a priority, and that starts at the top. Delivering shareholder value includes maximising value and best price and those kinds of things. But if that’s the top priority, there may be some misses for getting the right agenda around accomplishing ESG targets and doing right with the money that’s being spent, which is massive.” – 14:00 – Eric Brown

“Most organisations have a lot of legacy processes that have built up over time and people may not be there anymore, may not know who defined them – this has just lived forever in a lot of cases. So a project like this is that opportunity to define ‘What do we want it to be?’, and let’s define our go-forward process, not just bring forward a bunch of legacy stuff. Let’s look at what we liked about what we had, and what do we want that we don’t have, and start to look at some of that reengineering.” – 23:55 – Eric Brown

“Digital transformation is a journey, spend management is a journey. I don’t think anybody would say they’re there. Nobody’s going to get to the end, it’s always how we could continue to refine. So it’s definitely a maturity process.” – 27:20 – Eric Brown

“Sometimes I’m in awe at the amount of success a company can have with as immature as some of the processes are, with how much waste there is. Some of these companies are still having the success that they’re having with the waste that’s happening under the hood that they dismiss. I think there’s a huge opportunity to start to clean up that waste.” – 31:10 – Eric Brown

“In our own personal lives, consumerised and intuitive tech is so natural. Nobody gets trained to use anything in our personal lives. It’s just intuitive and we can do anything with it – online banking, e-commerce, anything. It’s taken a long time for that to move into the enterprise, but it’s here now and that is the future of it, right? You have to have it easy, and not just for one user. You have to look at it holistically. ” – 36:50 – Eric Brown


Links & References

  • Eric Brown, Vice President Northern Europe Mid-Market & Corporate

  • Coupa Software

  • Martin Smith, Founder & Director of Talent Drive

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