3 Ways CPOs Can Help Reduce Cognitive Overload for their Teams

As part of Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series—a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories—Maya Garcia-Hector, a Marketing Coordinator for Focal Point, outlines three ways that Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can reduce the risk of cognitive overload in the teams they manage.

Chief Procurement Officers know their duties have grown well beyond simply saving money. The expectation now is that modern procurement professionals can manage supplier relationships, update project stakeholders and report on organizational activities, all while considering supplier risk, ESG goals, and the workload of their teams.

It’s a tall order, and the role is more demanding than before. The diverse range of responsibilities for CPOs will evolve as geopolitical tensions continue and supply chain challenges persist. In an era that presents unique challenges to CPOs, keeping in tune with their employees’ workloads and well-being also can’t be underestimated.

According to a Gartner report, “Cognitive overload occurs when the demands placed on someone’s mental capacity (the cognitive load) are greater than the person’s ability to continually, and often simultaneously, deal with multiple demands on their mental capacity. Employees that are given too much information at once, too many tasks to complete, too many changes to adapt to, or too many decisions to make can feel overwhelmed, making them less productive.”

Ultimately, the CPO plays a significant role in the organization’s success. An essential factor in meeting this goal is mitigating the increasing threat of cognitive overload for the teams they lead. Here are three ways CPOs can help reduce their teams’ cognitive overload.

1) Achieve Greater Visibility of Procurement Orchestration

Albert Einstein famously said: “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The path to simplicity for procurement starts with understanding what is happening across the organization. To achieve this initial step in reducing cognitive overload, CPOs must have complete visibility of their procurement activities to ensure a streamlined process across projects and purchases.

Once clearer visibility of current projects and team activities is established, procurement leaders can more effectively specify and assign team members’ specific roles. By understanding more clearly the aggregate of requests, requirements, and requisitions, there can be a more efficient delegation of tasks that considers both workloads and team members’ expertise.

2) Manage and Track Workflows

Once CPOs and their teams understand what is happening along the procurement orchestration process, they can dive into managing and tracking workflows. CPOs can help set up their teams for success by ensuring efficiency, promoting standard operating procedures, and maximizing cost savings organization-wide. This starts with unifying siloed data and leveraging real-time analytics to monitor productivity, track requests, manage workflows and save money.

CPOs can protect employee morale and well-being through a clearer daily road map that removes ambiguity and exhaustion for teams. What used to be done by multiple teams via spreadsheets and siloed processes can now be assigned to the right people, eliminating redundancies and burnout.

3) Lean on Automation

CPOs can further reduce cognitive overload for their teams by leaning on automation. Procurement professionals can focus on more strategic and complex responsibilities by implementing procurement technology that automates repetitive, manual tasks. This can help procurement professionals work smarter, not harder, and ultimately reduce the overall workload on their teams.

Effective procurement automation can include the following steps, where internal and external data sources are integrated to help teams have the visibility they need without the headaches of chasing information:

  • Intake: Gives teams a single point of entry for procurement requests, with those requests routed appropriately to the best resource, so no decision-making is required for this step.
  • Execution and Collaboration: Allows users to track individual tasks and approvals to complete a project.
  • Performance Management: Provides a way that procurement teams can track against multiple KPIs, including ESG, supplier diversity, and risk mitigation.

Once known simply as the champions of savings, CPOs are now working judiciously to achieve critical ESG goals and coordinate streamlined workflows that may reduce their teams’ daily stress. CPOs can prioritize reducing cognitive overload for their teams by gaining greater visibility of procurement orchestration, managing and tracking workflows, and leaning on automation.

Additionally, creating a culture of openness and transparency where employees can express their concerns and ideas can help CPOs identify potential sources of cognitive overload and address them proactively. By taking a holistic approach to managing procurement operations, CPOs can create a healthier and more productive work environment for their teams.