Implementing Procurement Initiatives

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Laurie Kuecker discusses how procurement leaders must change and adapt their processes to better fit their industry.

As procurement leaders, we are here to manage the procurement process in the best interests of our company. We do it through commodity management, supplier and business collaboration, mitigating corporate risk, and managing change in the goods and services we collect. In today’s climate, Procurement has been tasked to review its processes and systems and do things better, faster, and cheaper to enable improvements to the procurement and supply management processes to transform the activities in support of a long-term solution.
Looking into one’s processes and taking a fresh point of view begins with accepting change and acknowledging that change is good. Implementing change includes building a solid team, and having executive buy-in is critical in moving forward in the transformation process. The team members should consist of those organizations that are a part of the procurement chain because one group does not work alone but in partnership across the organization. Team members should be allowed to freely contribute and express their points of view without being attacked or ignored. These individuals represent their organization and have insight and knowledge of their piece to the process that should be shared and documented. Each member has a voice that should be heard and respected.

Change Process for Transformation

But you also need to look at the change process and how the change can be successful, and how you can mitigate the roadblocks and obstacles during the transformation process. The key is collaboration and honest communication. A successful transformation should reflect the voice of many rather than one person’s point of view. The communication should be open and truthful. It should not be a filtered message. Because doing so, you lose credibility. As John Kotter, Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, has stated, “Nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with the verbal communication.” Communication should be real-time. Sharing only with executives or at the next monthly manager meeting is not recommended to wait for the right moment.
If those impacted by the change feel involved or are given honest communication, they feel a part of the process, a member of the extended team. You need to reach out to them and make them a part of the change to gain their point of view on a critical decision because success also relies on reaching beyond the project team. The benefit is gaining their buy-in and their perspective because they may see a gap in the system or process that could grow into an obstacle that could have been avoided.

Inclusion and communication

In my experience, a key to implementing purchasing initiatives such as a new ERP system or purchasing card program has been to be inclusive, have a strong team, and rely on the knowledge and experience of others. Open that communication channel with the company, provide project updates throughout the cycle, and keep people informed. Conduct focus groups, mass email communication, utilize corporate communication, and present to department/management councils to get the message that change is coming. Listen to their concerns and fears of change and address their questions by being truthful.
If you are not honest, rumors will spread, and false information could be circulated that will create an obstacle to trying to implement the change that, in the end, would be beneficial to the company and address inefficiencies and the daily pain points of the current process. Currently, my company is going through a significant NA procurement transformation project. Teams have been formed that have been managed differently. Some have a structure that listens to the team, and others discount a point of view that differs from the team leader. Information is being filtered and not shared, which has caused false information, wrong impressions, and unneeded anxiety over the change. Voices are not being heard, which has impacted the perception of the project. The lesson learned, be honest and inclusive and share the positive message of the change. It will cause a positive impact throughout the organization and open the door to the new normal.

The Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) Program is a 10-week course that focuses on the hard and soft skills of sourcing, including strategic sourcing and outsourcing methodologies, as well as best practices in negotiations.