How Procurement Staff Overcome Daily Challenges  with GenAI-Powered Self-Service BI 

5 Dec, 2023 •

warehouse managers preparing order, checking pick ticket on laptop

Procurement teams often waste up to 20% of their time hunting through various systems and documents for answers to their questions instead of solving procurement challenges. DvSum empowers procurement teams to eliminate the hunting and unleash data insights to maximize business outcomes.  By leveraging the power of Generative AI (GenAI), DvSum enables self-service Business Intelligence (BI) via natural language interactions with your data and documents.    

The DvSum Data Insights platform makes it effortless for procurement professionals to discover, understand, and trust the data with self-service BI for everyone. With quick, secure setup and no IT hassles, it’s a game-changer for procurement efficiency. 

This blog explores common challenges faced every day by the procurement team to access data quickly and securely to make better-informed decisions based upon reliable insights. 

Example Procurement Use Cases 

Use Case #1: Ensure Spend Under Contract (Frequent Requirement, Medium Impact) 

“Spend not under contract” is a key area of interest. It represents an area where the Procurement Team wants to exert meaningful service-level control and cost-savings with well understood suppliers. 

For example, in monthly reviews, the Director of Procurement meets with the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) on Procurement KPIs. They want to dive into a concerning trend quickly and easily on Indirect Spend and Spend not under contract. The Procurement Manager is tasked to find out what’s happening and what actions to take. 

In the traditional approach, the Procurement Manager scrambles to call the Category Managers and Analysts to help to figure out the situation. Their reply is they need to get detailed data from IT. In turn, IT requests the Procurement Manager to submit a ticket. After submitting the ticket, they all wait for progress to begin.  

Finally, the Analysts and Category Managers receive the data, but they do not know how to analyze it. So, the Category Managers collaborate with the Analysts on the meaning behind the data, and the Procurement Manager waits again.  

When the next monthly meeting comes, the Procurement Manager still has not advanced on the recommended actions to take.  

Clearly the ideal scenario would have been for the Procurement Manager to receive meaningful answers immediately without the need to involve Category Managers, Analysts, and IT. 

Use Case #2: Find a Supplier Already in the Service Catalog (Frequent Requirement, Medium Impact) 

Another common challenge for a Procurement Manager is to find a supplier with specific service levels, costs, and availability for a given period. For example, the request may be to identify a supplier for three months of services and the work needs to be completed in the next five months.  

Additionally, this specific service does not appear to be an existing catalog. Yet, it is possible there are existing suppliers who have the requested capabilities, but this information is buried in hundreds of Requests for Purchase (RFP) PDF files. Given this scenario, the Procurement Manager is faced with a choice: 

  1. Take the time to search through RFPs for this supplier and sift through attachments. 

OR  

  1. Just start a new RFP and recognize the project will be delayed until a new supplier is onboarded. 

Neither are great options. The ideal scenario is for the Procurement Manager to ask questions quickly and easily about the information buried in those RFP files. That has never been an option technically available until now. 

Use Case #3: Which Contracts Pose Risk? (Ongoing or Ad Hoc Requirement, High Impact) 

The Procurement Team’s responsibilities include remaining vigilant for ongoing and ad hoc business challenges. For example: 

a. Contractual salary requirements 

When the US government imposed a new minimum salary for H1B visa employees and contractors, the company needs to understand quickly: how many contracts this impacts; if there are contracts with clauses to mitigate government executive orders; and the extent of the financial obligations. 

b. Environmental, Social/Sustainability and Governance (ESG)   

The company needs to report on metrics to identify gaps in ESG policies related to data related to diversity, environmental and sustainability. This information is spread across many systems and data sources.  

c. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) 

At the time of an acquisition there is an urgent need to perform due diligence to compare contracts across both companies. The goal is to understand potential contractual risks as well as perform a detailed analysis for opportunities to consolidate supplier spend for greater discounts. 

The challenge: self-service BI with “in-the-moment, iterative analysis” 

To say the challenge is simply self-service BI with “ad hoc analysis” understates the problem.  

Data is hard to access 

Data is in multiple systems. Often, companies build data warehouses or data lakes to federate the data into one location. But this is costly, time-consuming to achieve, and it does not cover 100% of the data needed to solve known and unknown business challenges.  

  1. Structured data is located across systems and databases 
  1. Unstructured data is found in documents like RFPs, PowerPoint slides, and Contracts 

Questions are ad hoc and iterative but technical staff are backlogged 

The ad hoc nature of analysis is also both “in-the-moment” and iterative. It is compounded by the traditional approach requiring both in-depth business intelligence and data skills. Often this means waiting for days for a report that may not have all the right information.  

Default BI procurement reports can give a reasonable starting point, and it is possible BI assets are sometimes developed by data analysis experts who understand how to access and navigate the data model behind the scenes. Often those efforts can solidly address the more common reporting requirements. But in many scenarios, the procurement staff needs to go much deeper and pivot to many other related questions – all very quickly and iteratively, and in-the-moment.  

Procurement staff need to be able to hypothesize and analyze on-the-fly. However, the company cannot offer real-time access to the centralized BI team. Typically, procurement professionals do not have the deep BI skills needed to get answers within the minutes or seconds for a question “in-the-moment.”  

The solution: AI-powered chat interface that understands your data  

DvSum CADDI (“Conversational Analytics for Data Driven Insights”) allows the procurement team and other non-technical users to find data and insights themselves with self-service BI by simply chatting with data in natural language.  

DvSum securely combines OpenAI’s GPT-4 with a powerful underlying data infrastructure – including data catalog, data governance, and data quality. Therefore, any authorized user can query procurement data quickly, easily, and iteratively.   

For example:  

  • Category Managers can chat directly with the Spend Data to find real actionable insights for cost savings.  
  • Procurement Managers can chat with RFPs and Contracts to ask questions about compliance risk, new regulations, supplier risks. 

With out-of-box connectors and trained on the Procurement domain, it is set up and running with your live data in two weeks or less. 

DvSum’s patented architecture allows you to securely work with your existing data sources and systems. Data never leaves your network. 

Built on a strong data-foundation, the DvSum Data Insights platform also includes a data quality module that can help standardize and harmonize data to drive more accurate reporting and insights. 

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DvSum CADDI understands the data landscape and automatically accesses multiple databases and systems to quickly provide an answer and the sources cited to confirm the reasoning behind the answers.  

Conclusion  

DvSum CADDI empowers the procurement professionals to become more autonomous and productive with self-service BI to achieve “in-the-moment” analysis. Contact us today to see how DvSum CADDI can help you.  

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