It is called by many terms – “internal consultant”, “business partner”, “having a seat at the table”, but the ultimate goal of Procurement professionals is early involvement and influence in sourcing decisions based on trust and competence. Listed below are some approaches that I’ve found to be effective across multiple industries around the globe:
- Do not focus solely on cost or savings. The business knows that Procurement can deliver on cost and savings objectives; your goal is to demonstrate the value of your other capabilities. Come prepared to discuss how you can collaborate on innovation, improvement, risks, and supplier relationships. This is an effective approach to begin discussions on “RAQSCI” business requirements – Regulatory, Availability of Supply, Quality, Service, Cost, and Innovation.
- Demonstrate technical competence in their business area. Having an understanding of business-critical products and/or services is a success factor in building trust and collaboration. This is a consistent response from business partners at all levels in every industry I’ve worked. Put in the time to understand their short and long-term needs, drivers and concerns. Integrate this information into a set of business requirements and use this as a vehicle for discussion.
- Productively manage supplier relationships. Suppliers will work hard to stay between Procurement and the business decision makers. As you establish trust with the business, work to shift this dynamic so that you and your stakeholder present a united front. It is not necessary to be at every business meeting with a supplier. When your stakeholder refers a supplier to you, seeks your advice or invites you to a supplier meeting you’ll know the dynamic has changed.
- Identify and manage supply chain risks. Stakeholders seldom have time or the expertise to consider the supply chain and associated risks. Prepare a supply and value chain map for a business-critical product; highlight the risks and opportunities and present this at a staff meeting. Enlist their participation in managing risks and capturing value improvements.
- Communicate. When I am consulting, coaching or training I tell category managers and directors to plan on dedicating 25-50% of their time in communicating with stakeholders. Your goal is to foster two-way dialogues and build productive relationships, and that cannot be done by e-mail alone. Bring stakeholders information that can impact their business, such as a supply chain or supply market analysis, and ask for their input and active support. Ask to attend staff meetings and present relevant updates as a way to integrate into their business.
So, given all the responsibilities on your plate, how do you get started? Build a stakeholder map and engagement plan, and think of it as your personal marketing plan. A template is provided for your use. I would be interested in your feedback – let me know how it works for you.
About the author: Scot Buessow is Operations Director, Americas for Procurement & Supply Chain Academy. He spent 13 years as an Operations Director and Stakeholder in HealthCare before taking a turn as a Sourcing Consultant. Since 1999, Scot has consulted, provided training and worked in Pharmaceuticals, Clinical Diagnostics, Manufacturing, Medical Devices, and Telecommunications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.