Look away now. We’re about to tell you the cost of poorly executed procurement projects. A 2015 Deloitte report estimates that poor procurement practices cost the Australian government $239 million per annum. That’s not an insignificant number, needless to say, especially in light of 2020.
‘Poor procurement practice’ is an umbrella term that encompasses many failings. One big failing, often not addressed and allowed to fester, is poor engagement and communication between stakeholders in the procurement process and those in the procurement team itself.
Us procurement professionals are often made to feel like party-pooping gatekeepers, focusing too much on cost savings at the expense of all else. While it’s often necessary for us to say ‘no’, we need to be able to explain why. Likewise, our customers – the folks in the other departments – need to have compelling reasons for us to say ‘yes’, and articulate them. In short, procurement professionals and stakeholders need to talk to one another.
Procurement needs to take an active role in stakeholder decision-making. There’s frustration on both sides when the stakeholder makes grand plans only to have procurement shoot them down with the harsh reality of numbers.
The procurement team needs to engage with the stakeholders early in the process; this avoids wasting time and other resources. But, of course, stakeholders won’t let them in if the relationship isn’t a positive one. So, how do we foster positive engagement with stakeholders in the procurement process?
Listen & Communicate
Stakeholders can be goldmines. The good ones provide important information only they can get their hands on. It’s vital that procurement professionals identify the key stakeholders in their organisation and get to know them. Understand the extent of their influence.
With the stakeholder identified and befriended, we need to listen and take in what they have to offer. This involves active listening and asking the right questions. Find out their challenges and concerns and how you might be able to address them. If we do it right, we’ll gain insight into what makes particular stakeholders tick, and the best way to work with them.
Communication needs to be concise, clear and continual. If you’re implementing new processes, make sure the channels of communication are open throughout. This will make stakeholders in the procurement process feel valued and supported, and more willing to engage positively with you on future tasks. You will also be able to find solutions to conflicting objectives.
Get the Know-how
If you want to succeed in procurement, you need to unite your business behind your approach. Having a positive relationship with stakeholders is absolutely vital in achieving this. Fostering positive relationships with them leads to better results and value for all parties involved.
Academy of Procurement has training modules tailored to this very task, providing education on how to implement processes to manage stakeholders.