SEI is complex and often falls outside the boundaries of more recognized organizational activity. As such, the need for enabling structures is key if embryonic innovations are to be nurtured and matured into products and services that deliver recognized value.
There is no right approach to solving this issue; rather it must be appropriate to the organization in question. For example, some companies have opted to pursue SEI through category or commodity management structures, plugging procurement into the business through procurement engineers or other such roles. Others have opted for dedicated functions.
The structure module of the methodology is designed to provide guidance on the right approach for building out SEI into existing procurement organizations and company cultures. There is no right answer to this – one company’s approach may not necessarily be appropriate to another’s, even if they operate in similar (or the same) industries.
Level 1: Opportunistic Innovation
SEI is driven by staff within the procurement function, with some expert support from areas such as supplier development and category management.
Level 2: Systemic Innovation
Business performance and operational issues are used to focus the search for SEI, with proposals being facilitated between relevant knowledge holders by a defined group who have the appropriate level of authority to drive progress.
Level 3: Interactive Innovation
A formal SEI program exists and has been widely communicated to supplier partners. Proposals are forwarded through a formal channel with responses being provided in a timely manner.
Level 4: Embedded Innovation
SEI is actively managed across the network of partners in order to coordinate the collection, sharing, development and delivery of ideas with relevant stakeholder and expert groups.
When considering the most appropriate structure to deliver SEI to an organization, company leaders must take many things into consideration – not least the overall procurement structure, business strategy and objectives and internal culture. The ultimate goal is deliver results and pipeline, and there are many different ways to do this when it comes to structure.