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Aaqil Kassamali: Procurement, the Heart of SaaS Management at Hootsuite

Hootsuite Procurement, Aaqil Kassamali


From creating broader visibility to turnkey internal processes, Procurement has become the heart of Hootsuite’s SaaS management program. In this episode, discover the lessons procurement manager Aaqil Kassamali and his team have learned and his advice for positioning Procurement as a valuable business partner.

Episode Summary

It’s often employees think of Procurement as a gatekeeper. At Hootsuite, however, procurement manager Aaqil Kassamali is bucking the status quo.

Certainly, policies and processes are imperative. But, Aaqil has made it more about building relationships and communication. Showing members of the company, “We’re gonna partner with you. You’re still gonna buy, but we’re gonna get this done the right way.”

That also means making the process easy and repeatable across the business. In fact, Aaqil considers one of the biggest game-changers the Procurement Center he built alongside IT.

“You can look at templates and guides, and you can also make all your requests through there.”

It’s made scaling the business easier and sustainable – something that will pay dividends in the future. Continue reading for Aaqil’s view into how all of this was accomplished and what’s next for the Procurement team at Hootsuite.

Guest Spotlight

Name: Aaqil Kassamali

What he does: Procurement manager at Hootsuite

Connect with Aaqil online: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

Purchase Orders Help Centralize SaaS Purchases

Purchase orders helped us centralize. Once it gets to the PO stage, everything’s done, so that’s not where the value is. But what it’s doing is, it’s getting everybody in the door to get a purchase order. Now, the battle is, at what stage does that purchase come to us? What it did was reduced redundancy. It got us to know who the buyers are around the company and the type of stuff that’s being bought and when.”

Be a Partner, Not a Roadblock

“Internally that’s sometimes the image, ‘What is procurement?’ They look at security, privacy, they look at legal, it’s all roadblocks and jargon. So how do you show them? ‘Hey, we’ve got a little bit of business acumen here. We’ve done this before, we’re not going to block you. But you’re part of this company, you’re a shareholder, you want us to protect our data, our customers and all this stuff.’ You want to say all this without scaring them away saying, ‘Okay, but we’re going to do all that behind the scenes and we’re going to partner with you. You’re still going to buy, but we’re going to get this done the right way.’”

Processes and Controls are Key When Scaling

“If you lax on a lot of this stuff, people work for companies now, 1, 2, 3 years, they’re gone. So if you, at scale, don’t do this crucial work that’s required on the controls, it’s going to be a big problem for the company leading down [the road].”

Communicate the PO Process and Make It Easy for Employees

“People get scared like, ‘How long is this going to take? Why is this going to take so long?’ Because sometimes things take time. So we’re unpacking that for our internal customers to show them why. What we’ve done this year that’s been great is that we partnered with IT to build a procurement landing page center. From there you can look at templates and guides, and you can make all your requests through there. That’s been a scaling game changer for us.”

You Must Prioritize Where to Invest

“If you look at those maps that always get shared of how many vendors and tools are in each category, and now you’re looking at a company of, for us, let’s say 1,300 people globally, how do we prioritize where we’re going to invest? That’s always what I dive into. Our process has evolved and it’s gotten really good, because it’s consolidated. But still within that, who’s a decision maker to tell the head of sales that, ‘No, the ROI on this is not quite matching up with what marketing’s looking for versus what CTO’s looking for, et cetera.’ That high level decision making strategy of where we need to invest, where we need to renew, where we need to add, that I think is the part that’s extremely valuable. Then you need to look over and realize that sales, marketing, CTO, legal, they’re all going to have their ask, they’re all going to think their asks are number one for X reason. You can’t buy them all, you can’t implement them all even if you can buy them all and you can’t integrate them all.”

Renewal Fatigue is a Real Administrative Burden

“You could do everything on a one year deal or short term, but is that the best? Is that efficient? Is that cost prohibitive? There’s so many reasons why you wouldn’t do that if you’re being strategic. So you separate your software into different categories. You go to your core and then you have your next group or the ones that you’re maybe a bit more flexible on. I think that renewal fatigue has an immense downstream operations burden, because we go out to this user who has a day job, asking them to submit a renewal. And then they’re not going to do it, so you’re following up with them. They’re going to eventually submit it, but they’ve had to do some work to submit. And then it comes into our flow, and we may review it, it may be very easy, but if not, there might be another security, privacy, legal. So its downstream effects and then eventually to the finance world, where they have to process it. So there’s lots of things to think about when we make decisions. So a small decision, yes or no, can lead to a lot of work.”

Top Quotes

20:10 – “The one thing I keep telling the team is that it doesn’t have to be right. We’re going to try this out, if it’s poor, we can reverse it. We’re allowed to make that mistake.”

26:50 – “Renewal fatigue has an immense downstream operations burden.”

Check out other episodes here, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Cory Wheeler

As Zylo’s Chief Customer Officer, Cory is responsible for helping our customers drive ROI and SaaS Management success with Zylo. He helps companies of all sizes effectively discover, optimize, and govern their SaaS through Zylo’s platform and services. Prior to founding Zylo, Cory spent 15 years in finance and procurement, managing categories and sourcing teams at Arthur Andersen, BearingPoint, and both Takeda and Astellas Pharmaceuticals. He built the procurement organization at ExactTarget, and managed the integration with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud procurement organization in 2015. He and his family reside in Indianapolis, IN, where they can be found cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers and Chicago Cubs.

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