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Content and Community for Procurement – Daniel Barnes from Gatekeeper
Episode 529th September 2022 • The Procurement Software Podcast • James Meads
00:00:00 00:30:05

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Welcome back to The Procuretech Podcast!   We're continuing with our mini series where we ask influencers and industry experts for their thoughts and nuggets of advice on everything that's happening in the digital procurement world.  

Content and Community for Procurement - Daniel Barnes from Gatekeeper

Today we've got a returning guest who was on the first series of the podcast way back in 2020. He's a man who needs no introduction. But we're going to give him one anyway.It’s procurement influencer Daniel Barnes, of World of Procurement and lately Gatekeeper.  

A quick catch up on the last few years

It was the very start of the COVID pandemic when we last spoke. So we kick off the podcast by asking Dan what he's been up to since then. A lot changed very quickly for Dan when the pandemic hit. He was working as a consultant in the defence space at the time, and COVID really impacted the pipeline of work in that space. From there, he pivoted to a FinTech firm where he worked for around 18 months. During that time he started looking into procurement tech and contract tech. In that role, he sourced and implemented a contract management product called Gatekeeper, then decided he wanted to join that company. Dan's got a legal background, including an undergraduate degree in commercial law. So the contract side of procurement comes naturally to him. He finds it fascinating, being able to hold his own against properly trained legal people like solicitors. He also felt like he could make a bigger impact at Gatekeeper - by showing off this kind of tech and educating people on the benefits of digital transformation. He's been in the role of Community Manager over at Gatekeeper since June. His job now involves shooting content on topics like contract and risk management, and also working with Gatekeeper to help better position the business. So that's lots of change in the last 6 months, let alone the last two years!  

Dan's experience working in FinTech

When he joined the FinTech, Dan was the very last person to join the team. Everyone else was more focused on the supplier management side of things They had a CLM but it was basically just a repository that allows you to store metadata, and it didn't really do anything else. It was really painful to work with. It was probably just an Excel worksheet by the CMS, and then a user interface was slapped on top of it. Going into a FinTech space in a scale up environment was terrifying. Everything happens so fast. Dan realised that with all the admin workload, there was barely any time to any work that adds value. And the work was boring, too. It was just the most mundane stuff - stuff that you could have a virtual assistant do for pennies, anywhere else in the world. He felt like a very well paid admin assistant a lot of the time. And that's bizarre, especially for a tech business.  

Implementing Gatekeeper

Thankfully, the company Dan was working for did get it. He managed to secure some investment to go out and find a solution that could change things. They looked at maybe 10 different suppliers, in CLM, and the wider procurement space. Then eventually chose gatekeeper as the best solution. It automated everything that might usually fall to a junior admin assistant – literally every single part of what that job spec would have looked like. Dan can remember the early days when he could spend all day working in an Excel spreadsheet. These days, Excel gives Dan anxiety. Spending all day in a spreadsheet isn't doing procurement. It's busy work. People might shut down at any mention of AI, but it really moves things along when it comes to processes and workflows. Whether it's extracting data, creating records or reaching out to people, it reduces the time spent on jobs that don't add value. This is what Dan finds so empowering about technology. There are also really exciting social and ethical implications, too. Dan gives the example of the sustainability platform Circular. They're trying to make sure that the the raw materials that end up in our phones and our cars are devoid of slave labour, exploitative practices and corruption. The platform uses Blockchain technology to make sure there's a trackable audit history, reducing ethically dubious practices. He thinks things like that are really a game changer. It's not just good for procurement, it's going to benefit all of us as a society as well.  

Gen Z and the sustainable future

Many of today's global challenges – from the aftermath of COVID, to supply chain challenges and geopolitical risks – make it feel like now is the time for procurement to shine. How can technology help us face down all the current uncertainty in the world? Dan thinks that technology has a huge role to play, not least in attracting essential new talent. He looks to Gen Z and their need for more efficient, usable systems. As we get rid of the boring workload foisted onto procurement professionals, we're going to attract more creative thinkers. We're going to attract more diversity, more varying perspectives. A lot of that generation has different priorities, for example a strong ethical belief in sustainability, and a consciousness of where products come from.  Working in procurement potentially enables you to impact what millions of people across the world buy. And that’s really exciting. But companies need to actually take this opportunity on. They have to rework all of their job specs and welcome this change.  

Community Management

Community Manager is a role that's very much in its infancy. How essential does Dan think it is, in terms of building a brand and marketing a SaaS product? Gatekeeper is maybe a bit different to a lot of other SaaS solutions because it offers unlimited users. So everyone in a business has access to the platform, and that creates a community base from day one. Those people can give feedback, helping to shape and direct the platform's development. The customers want to grow the product too, for obviously selfish reasons. Content is also incredibly important. Content has to be genuinely useful. If it has no value, no-one wants to read it. It's just a superficial thing. Dan thinks that they're lucky at Gatekeeper to have such insightful talent. The level of expertise at the company means that they have genuinely useful insights to share in their content. LinkedIn isn't always the biggest help – they don't really share much content. So having someone like Dan come in is really valuable. If his videos get good viewership ,and are on topics that people are passionate about, that starts creating conversations. Then there's thought leadership content, webinars, all sorts of directions in which a community can grow. It's about putting value out first and foremost. And then good stuff will happen in one way or another.

Wrapping Up

That's all for this episode of The Procuretech Podcast. We wrap things up by talking briefly about Dan's World of Procurement podcast, and an exciting upcoming podcast project he's working on with Gatekeeper. You can check that out, connect with Dan, or explore what Gatekeeper has to offer, using the links below. Thanks for listening, and we'll catch you next time!  

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