Procurement in Engineering: A Blueprint for Project Success

October 13, 2022
Robert Rogers
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Whether designing a small production widget or an international pipeline, engineering projects contain a large number of stakeholders outside of the core engineering team. Any engineering project is a monumental effort that could involve multiple companies, government bodies, multiple departments, and a host of highly trained professionals of different disciplines. All of which are critical if the job is to be completed.

For example, if the engineering team cannot source the physical materials for their projects, then the team cannot complete the building phase of the engineering contract. Likewise, if a procurement team does not have a proper scope, documentation and materials lists from the engineers, then the material or service can never be sourced. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines. 

Engineering Projects with Multiple Stakeholders 

Procurement and engineering teams are often seen as siloed departments that work independently of each other. Both have their own goals and priorities. Procurement teams look to minimize costs and hit project deadlines, while engineers focus on perfecting the efficacy and execution of their designs. The most successful firms are the ones that find a way to connect these two departments into a collaborative and results-oriented team. Understanding the goals and motivations of each group and working to break the operations silos into a more uniform and team focused space should be top of mind for such businesses. 

This endeavor begins with the understanding that, while these roles are inherently different, their integration with one another will strengthen the results of the project. For true collaboration to occur, these teams need to become knowledgeable of the roles, processes, and value-ads that the other department provides. 

Engineering Blueprint Current SCM

True Collaboration Between Engineering and Procurement

Collaboration across function groups can be a game changer for firms, but meshing these skill groups together is no simple task. To achieve these goals, it takes more than people wanting to work together. You will need a real roadmap to success. 

To effectively collaborate, it will prove useful to follow these two steps:  

  1. First, clearly define the goal you are trying to achieve and create a plan for the necessary tasks and responsibilities of your team and other teams in the organization. Create a framework that serves as a collaboration contract and communicates the expectations, timelines, and responsibilities.  
  2. Second, bring together all relevant collaborators from different areas of the company to review, revise, and commit to the collaboration contract. Avoid the mistake of trying to piece together agreements with each individual team separately, as this is inefficient and often ineffective. Instead, bring all necessary collaborators and stakeholders together early on to work through plans, make adjustments, and align resources and incentives. [1]

Supply Frame gives a unique perspective on this collaborative challenge in their article: Bridging The Gap Between Engineering and Procurement

 The engineering team must be able to present their point of view to the procurement department so they can understand the logic behind the design and material choices. 

This boils down to the bill of materials (BOM) for ordering components and supplies. Many Companies currently use software like Microsoft Excel and email tools to collaborate and share BOM spreadsheets. Others have leveraged tools like Dropbox to make collaboration smoother and more organized. Advancements in software technology across cloud computing, analytics, and platform architectures have begun to show the cracks in these current solutions. There are far too many possibilities for error. 

True collaboration comes from a cloud-based software platform. With a comprehensive BOM management solution, the gap between your procurement and engineering teams can finally be dissolved. 

This translates to engineers making better part decisions, along with a lightweight project management which makes it simple for the team to transfer ownership to sourcing when ready. All of this leaves behind a trail of accountability so there’s never any question about the changes made to the BOM. “

Engaged in Complex Procurement?

Current SCM is a cloud-based software that streamlines the process of project-based procurement & materials management and drives collaboration among project stakeholders. The term “project” can be defined as a construction project or a manufacturing project, or it can simply represent the way a business organizes their procurement (e.g., by project, program, product, client, division, business unit, region).

Current SCM offers a unique platform to manage the end-to-end process of project-driven supply chain management, including support for the planning, procurement, and management of both materials and services. Current SCM includes a robust set of project-based toolsets, including Project Planning, Material Planning, Service Planning, Vendor Document Requirements Management, Requisition Management, Bid Management, Purchase Order Management, Service Order Management, Material & Document Tracking, Inspection Management, Vendor Invoice Matching, Project Inventory Management, Project Asset Management, and more!

And Current SCM excels in accommodating diverse project requirements with unrivaled flexibility & control, including project-specific User access & permissions, cost structures, business rules, approved vendors, workflows, terms, reports, and much, much more!

If you engage in any of Project Procurement, Technical Procurement, Direct Procurement, or Third Party Procurement, Current SCM will optimize your procurement & materials management workflow. If you engage in all four, Current SCM will revolutionize the way you do business.

Contact the team at Current SCM today to learn more!

[1] Ashkenas, Ron. “There’s a Difference between Cooperation and Collaboration.” Collaboration And Teams. Harvard Business Review, April 20, 2015.