Datadog is a business that’s undergone incredible change and growth in recent years. It’s a US-based software company specialising in observability and security, enabling visibility into dynamic environments while streamlining myriad processes. This company is exploding at an incredible pace right now, and that requires the strong guidance of innovators who can help a business thrive at a time which could otherwise be chaotic. Michelle Vita, Head of Procurement and Strategic Sourcing at Datadog, is one such innovator.
After leading the procurement processes and procedures at Compass, Vita stepped into Datadog four years ago. She was the first procurement hire, right before the IPO, so it was a pivotal time for the company. Indeed, Datadog had no procurement function at all, meaning Vita had the mammoth-yet-exciting task of implementing one ahead of her.
Procurement as a function
“I had a clear vision for what I wanted the function to ultimately look like,” she explains, “which we’re still working towards. We’re still developing into a mature procurement function. But at the time I was hired, the view of procurement heavily centred around contract negotiation; basically, just getting the lowest price. Before I joined, the VP of Finance was the one having a lot of these conversations. For my first six months, I continued that work, but I knew that procurement was so much more than just saving dollars on the bottom line.”
Vita knew that Datadog needed a purchasing system. When the company was preparing to go public, the lack of a purchasing system was a glaring issue that needed to be fixed in order to create a structured approval process. There had been nothing in place to state that somebody needed approval from a specific director or VP in order to spend certain amounts of money, so expenditures were flying under the radar and it was causing problems.
“The first thing I looked for was low-hanging fruit,” says Vita. “A big problem area I discovered at the start was there were a ton of corporate cards that had been given out, even to people who didn’t really need them. I recognised we could be more efficient with those cards.”
Building the team
“There’s no manual for this,” she explains. “Everyone has their own structure for building a procurement team. But I was the first procurement hire so I had to figure it out myself. With the first hire, I just knew I needed a right-hand person with me to help with whatever task hit my desk. After that, I realised I needed help with contract negotiation, which was a huge bottleneck. Then, we needed someone to handle admin tasks as the team – and the business – grew.”