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Driving Digital Transformation in Procurement

Peter Ucovich

Peter Ucovich

Director of Indirect Sourcing at Verizon

Peter Ucovich Verion Wireless

Beginning a digital transformation is a crucial step in your journey towards increased efficiencies and more effective procurement strategies. 

Quartz Network Executive Correspondent Britt Erler sat down with Peter Ucovich, Director of Indirect Sourcing at Verizon to discuss  the lessons he has learned within the digital transformation of procurement including the most critical components for success. 

Peter shares insight into: 

  • Lessons learned in the digital transformation of procurement 
  • The most critical components ensuring success for a digital transformation 
  • Near and longer-term future of digital transformation 

Quartz Network: Can you share some of your background and a bit about your role with Verizon? 

Peter Ucovich: I’ve had a fairly long career in sourcing Procurement and Supply Chain, actually spanning multiple industries, multiple different companies, all pharma hypergrowth, startups, public industry into large fortune 20 organizations. And across all of that experience have been both domestic and international, building out global supply chains for the likes of we work in Tesla Motors. And then having experience in the higher education department at the University of California were deployed an entire Procurement system for the UC system. And currently up the horizon. We’re not only are we redefining Procurement for Verizon, redefining Procurement, through the advent of 5g and deployment of 5g across the entire nation. 

Quartz Network: What are some lessons learned from your history with digital transformation in the procurement space? 

Peter Ucovich: During my last 20 or so years in the industry we’re continuing to see this evolution that plays out across large and small companies in different ways. When I think through some of the lessons learned, it comes down to three fundamental buckets.  

First and foremost, just like everything, planning is hyper critical to ensuring success for the transformation. Depending on whether it’s sourcing or procurement organization, or across redesigning the entire global Supply Chain, having a clear vision of where you’re going, where you’re starting at, and how you’re going to get there is really critical to success to make sure you understand when you’re taking a step forward, or in the unfortunate example, that you’re taking a step backward and how to redirect it.  

The second thing that is really critical, these are really large, complex changes for an organization. So you need to garner support across the entire organization. Most of us think about garnering support up and getting our projects approved. But even more critical is garnering support out and down, those who are going to actually be implementing the change and the digital advancement that you’re doing. Whether that’s in supply chain sourcing or procurement. And those who will be the recipients, the team members who are actually going to be deploying the new technology, the evolution that you’ve done, you have to have their buy in not only at the beginning, but throughout the entire change process.  

The third thing is, be willing to adjust. You’re going to put in a lot of effort. I put in a lot of effort in making the best plan ever. We ticked and tied everything out. And as we all have learned after COVID-19, the entire world can shift overnight.  

So while we have the best laid plans, and all of you are probably doing great planning efforts, also be willing to pivot to adjust and make sure you understand why you’re adjusting. That’s where that vision comes into place. Having support across the organization so that when you make an adjustment, when you make a pivot, everyone understands how that pivot is still leading toward your strategy and your vision of where you want to go. 

Quartz Network: For companies considering this digital transformation, what are some of the key benefits? 

Peter Ucovich: As you think through the digital transformation, first and foremost, it’s about ensuring that what you’re doing is more efficient and effective. Whatever that business outcome you’re trying to drive towards, you’re more efficient and effective and you’re producing higher quality and higher value work out of your human resources.  

So generally speaking, the digital procurement transformation starts at the more low value tasks and moves up the value food chain so that the human resources that you’re deploying in your company are maximized. You’re using their talent to be the strategist to understand how to tie business objectives into the marketplace, third party suppliers, your supply chain development, and ensuring that you’re as efficient and as effective at meeting your consumer needs and the changing consumer demands.  

The one thing I will say is that what we’ve seen more recently is across the entire world is that consumer demands and changes are ever increasing, the change in the consumer demand is faster and faster each and every day. And the ability to reduce the non-value-added work or the low-value-added work allows your team members to think more strategically about how to meet those consumer demands each and every day. 

Quartz Network: When you make a major transformation like this within an organization, what kind of obstacles can you encounter? 

Peter Ucovich: Be prepared to set a plan, but also being willing to pivot from the plan. A lot of executives like to have a plan laid out. And then we always measure ourselves against both the timing and the execution of the plan. So we ship, we set the yardstick or the measurement by which we’re going to measure ourselves or we’re committing to, and then we keep that constant, even if the world’s changing.  

There are times at which we need to change the measurement. We need to change the way in which we’re looking at the project. And we need to make sure that we are reaching out to our entire stakeholder group up, out, and down so that they understand those changes.  

One of the key aspects that I think is really important when you’re thinking about these large comprehensive changes is having a really robust governance process spelled out in front, so that people are fully engaged in the decision making process right back to not only the leadership, not only myself and my team that’s implementing it, but those that are going to be on the receiving end of the changes that we’re implementing as well. So that everyone understands not only why decisions are made, but how they’re made. The world will continue to change, and if you’re talking about a one-to-three-year global transformation of a procurement sourcing organization, or global supply chain, we know that the world is going to change underneath us during the implementation of digital transformation.  

Having that robust governance process, which sometimes in my history was a little bit of a gap in a slip, then I realized, I wasn’t the only one. Even though I’m driving the process, because I own the supply chain, I’m not the only stakeholder that cares about how decisions are made.  

My internal business customers care, my team cares, the executives that I’m also working with care about it. So having that robust governance process about how decisions are made, was critical. And sometimes I think something that is slightly missed, because we’re all drivers and we want to get to the finish line, on time and on budget. 

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