Your people know their stuff. You’ve made it clear that strategic procurement is a priority, and they’ve internalized that mandate like their own DNA. So documenting those processes would be a waste of time. Your people have better things to do and, besides, things change (especially in healthcare, where new developments come at light speed). Right? Well…no. Not really. In fact, not at all.
Here are just a few reasons why documenting your procurement processes is more important than you may realize:
1. Knowledge Retention
More than 250,000 Americans turn 65 every month. While many are working past age 65, there are still many people leaving the workforce to retire. If your processes aren’t documented, that knowledge leaves with them. And if you’re talking about executive-level employees who have been with your company for years, that’s a lot of knowledge. And then there are the people who are forced to quit work due to illness, or who choose to leave for another job.
According to Forbes, for example, 91% of Millennials plan to stay at a job for no more than three years. While they may not have the volume of knowledge that retiring Baby Boomers do, that doesn’t mean they aren’t making an impact, especially when it comes to familiarity with emerging technologies. Documenting your strategic procurement processes ensures that valuable knowledge doesn’t walk out the door with your employees.
2. Reality Check
In a perfect world, no one would devise workarounds to processes that don’t make sense – and then keep doing things that way until the workarounds actually become the process. In the real world, however, that happens all the time, which is why many executives discover that their supply chain works in a very different way than they think it does. Documenting your strategic procurement processes serves as an important reality check – provided you start by documenting what employees really do, not what you think they do. You may find that your staff has come up with workarounds that are actually much more effective than the “official” process. Or you may find that the workaround is a disaster waiting to happen. Either way, you can’t be truly strategic if you don’t have a firm grip on how things really work.
Almost every aspect of the healthcare industry is highly regulated. Documentation is your proof that you’re in compliance with those regulations. For example, can you imagine the problems a pharmaceutical company would have in trying to get a new drug approved if they didn’t document every detail about the development and testing process? Following all the rules wouldn’t help them very much if they couldn’t prove they followed the rules. Process documentation provides that proof.
In addition to proof, documentation also provides accountability. First, it’s hard to hold employees accountable for violating processes that don’t officially exist. Documenting processes ensures that employees know what is expected and that management has a blueprint for fair evaluation. In addition, documented processes can help mitigate liability in the event of fines or lawsuits. It’s proof that the violation was a matter of noncompliance on the part of employees rather than neglect on the employer’s part.
One obvious benefit of documenting your strategic procurement process is for training purposes. It’s easier to bring new employees up to speed if there’s a clear process for what to do. But there’s another, equally important, reason. The best process documentation includes not only the what, but also the why. There will always be those one-off situations that aren’t addressed by existing processes. If your documentation includes your guiding principals – like a commitment to sustainability – it provides a framework for addressing new situations.
Sure, documenting your strategic procurement processes takes time. And it’s not just a one-time project. Documentation that isn’t updated after major changes – and at regular intervals – will quickly become outdated. But the investment of time and money is worth it.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.