Viewpoint November 2013

02/12/2013

Future Purchasing Viewpoint
Simon Brown

Anna Del Mar

Director, Future Purchasing

Welcome to the November edition of our FP Viewpoint in which we look at how to improve team stakeholder engagement skills.

Despite a clear procurement policy, one major financial services client found that many stakeholders were sceptical, disinterested or entirely unaware of the value that procurement could deliver. In order to meet its objectives, Procurement had to significantly improve stakeholder management.

FP worked with the client to design and run a series of ground-breaking stakeholder engagement workshops for 150 mid and junior level staff. The workshops worked on three levels:

  1. Experienced procurement practitioners explained which stakeholder skills to use at key points during the sourcing cycle
  2. Actors brought soft skills to life
  3. Participants practised through role play to “learn by doing”

Participants came away with new skills and renewed confidence. Their perception of ‘difficult’ stakeholders and tough challenges melted away and the teams felt empowered to add true value. The combination of experiential learning and senior sponsorship gave the programme some of the highest feedback scores the client had seen and good follow up has visibly delivered sustainable procurement improvement.

Read more of our thoughts on this topic here >

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“Making a difference through better stakeholder management”

Real collaboration is key

Procurement leaders are usually accomplished at managing complex and competing stakeholder requirements.

However, mid and junior level buyers, sometimes lack these skills. This affects their confidence and in some cases make them behave in a fashion which is submissive, defensive or occasionally resistant. In these situations it is difficult to build trust and truly collaborate with stakeholders.

The first step in building stakeholder management skills is for buyers to figuratively ‘step into their stakeholder’s shoes’ and recognise how procurement is viewed and the expectations from them as individuals. This baseline is essential for determining whether there is a gap in what stakeholders are expecting, and what Procurement knows to be the best way it can add value.

Buyers can then learn different techniques to address this gap, including technical procurement tools and soft skills. These skills will help them build trust and bring to life the value that professional Procurement makes at each stage of the sourcing cycle, For example;

  1. Review supplier markets and the factors that influence them
  2. Weigh up cost effectiveness of different specifications
  3. Identify best negotiation strategies
  4. Improve accuracy and reduce workload through structured process and sharing the workload

Fundamental points to keep in mind when improving stakeholder management

Convince, don’t mandate.
Compliance with procurement processes is rarely mandatory and cooperation with procurement usually needs to be earned.

Introduce procurement insights & structures which are visibly useful to stakeholders.
Agree terms of reference for effective sourcing and collaborating to ensure the best value outcomes for each sourcing project. Use tools which make sourcing more efficient and better value.

Use soft skills.
This takes subtlety, skill, experience and an understanding of business principles that can feel beyond many buyers’ job grade.

Read our insight guide on Team Stakeholder Management Skills

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