How Early Procurement Gets You What You Want: Insider Strategies Revealed! 

Procurement Professional Services

Here’s a day in the life of a Procurement Professional: 

“How did I not know about this? Why was this not on the sourcing project plan? When did you decide to go to market?”  

Many procurement professionals experience these moments of surprise and frustration, which typically arise from being brought into projects too late. This delay not only sidelines their potential contribution but also limits the strategic value they can add. 

On the flipside, stakeholders, imagine launching a project with all the insights on cost, efficiency, and innovation already in your pocket. That’s the power when procurement gets involved early in the process – skip ahead to the Insider Strategies section to get the low-down on that.  

With early procurement involvement the benefits are tangible—lower costs, enhanced quality, and innovation that doesn’t just meet but exceeds expectations.  Let’s chat about what prevents procurement professionals getting involved early in sourcing projects.  

Challenges of Early Procurement Involvement

  1. Internal Resistance: A significant barrier is the internal resistance stemming from entrenched cultural norms. In many organisations, procurement is often viewed merely as a transactional function, engaged towards the end of the decision-making process. This perception can lead to resistance from other departments, which may see early procurement involvement as an intrusion into their domains of expertise. Changing this mindset requires a shift in the organisational culture to appreciate the strategic value procurement can bring from the outset of a project. It involves demonstrating how EPI can contribute to overall project success, not just from a cost perspective but also in enhancing quality and innovation
  2. Alignment of Objectives: Another challenge is the alignment of procurement objectives with those of other departments like engineering, marketing, or product development. Each department traditionally operates with its own set of priorities and metrics. For instance, while engineering might prioritise technical performance and innovation, procurement might focus on cost efficiency and supplier stability. Bridging these often conflicting priorities requires a clear communication strategy and integrated planning processes. Establishing shared goals and understanding the trade-offs can facilitate a more collaborative environment where procurement is seen as a partner rather than a gatekeeper
  3. Resource Constraints: Resource constraints also pose a significant challenge. Early involvement of procurement means allocating staff, time, and budget to participate in preliminary meetings, conduct market research, and develop strategic supplier relationships well before any purchasing happens. In organizations where procurement teams are already stretched thin, finding the bandwidth for such proactive involvement can be daunting. This often necessitates not just additional resources but also a re-evaluation of how procurement’s role is viewed within the organisational hierarchy and its strategic importance.

To overcome these challenges, organisations need to foster a culture that recognises the strategic role of procurement beyond just cost savings. This involves educating all stakeholders about the benefits of enrolling procurement early, realigning metrics to support collaborative objectives across departments, and ensuring that procurement teams are equipped with the necessary resources and authority to influence project outcomes effectively from the beginning.  

Sell the Benefits! Stakeholders May Not Know Why to Involve you Early

Here’s the start of your pitch:

Hey, I know procurement might seem like just another hurdle sometimes but hear me out. Getting us involved early can genuinely transform how our projects unfold. We’re not here to make things tougher; we’re here to spot the shortcuts and savings that aren’t always obvious. What do you say?


Here are the benefits to outline: 

      1. Strategic Advantage: Procurement’s early input helps sculpt project scopes and specifications to not only fit current market conditions but also anticipate future shifts. This foresight gives businesses a competitive edge, making them nimble and adaptive in a marketplace where change is the only constant. 
      2. Cost Efficiency: Now, on the money front—early procurement does more than save pennies; it releases your budget for other spending. Engaging procurement early means you have a specialist at the table who’s adept at sniffing out cost-saving opportunities from a mile away. They leverage their knowledge and supplier networks to negotiate better terms, ensure cost-effective purchasing, and avoid the dreaded scope creep that can inflate budgets unexpectedly. This isn’t about cutting costs after the fact; it’s about intelligent spending that aligns with your strategic goals from day one.
      3. Innovation: And here’s where it gets exciting! Getting procurement involved early doesn’t just keep your projects within budget; it propels them forward by injecting innovation into the process. When procurement teams collaborate closely with suppliers from the beginning, they create a feedback loop that fosters innovation. Suppliers aren’t just order takers; they’re partners who can offer new materials, technologies, and processes that can significantly enhance the project outcome. This collaboration can lead to breakthroughs that set the organisation apart – making you (stakeholder) look amazing!

      Three effective ways to secure earlier involvement. 

      1. Cross-Functional Teams Start by forming cross-functional teams that include procurement professionals right from the initial stages of project planning. This team setup fosters a collaborative environment where insights from procurement can directly influence project scope, design decisions, and ultimately, the success metrics of the project.
      2. Training and Education It’s essential to bring everyone on board with the value of early involvement. How is your team going with Stakeholder Influence and Management? If the struggle is real – check out our Training Workshops and eLearning on this topic.
      Training Workshops and eLearning
      1. Process Integration Finally, integrate procurement strategies into the project lifecycle from the outset. This means adjusting your project management frameworks to include procurement milestones and checkpoints right from the project’s conception. Establish clear protocols and workflows that dictate when and how procurement should be involved. By formalising procurement’s role in these early stages, it makes it much easier to get involved early without any pushing on your end. 

      Now here’s the real kicker – have you thought about involving legal early too?

      During the early stages of drafting contracts, it’s common for negotiations to miss key elements necessary for contracting, implementation, and ongoing vendor management.  

      Often, this happens because legal and contracting teams, along with other stakeholders, aren’t brought into the loop early enough, or they don’t stay actively involved throughout the process.  

      Sometimes, the crunch for time and resources prevents procurement, legal, and business teams from preparing adequately. At other times, a heavy focus during negotiations on divvying up responsibilities and value can spark lengthy and contentious discussions, setting the stage for a strained relationship and equally challenging vendor management down the line.  

      This makes a strong case for involving procurement early—so why not extend the same courtesy to your colleagues in legal? Bringing them in early can help smooth out potential bumps, ensuring that everyone’s on the same page from the get-go, which can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative atmosphere right from the start. 

      x5 Insider Strategies Revealed! 

      Involving procurement professionals early in your project planning isn’t just a best practice—it’s a strategic advantage that can significantly impact your project’s success. Here are seven insider strategies to maximise the benefits of your procurement team

      1. Integrate Early and Often: Bring procurement into project discussions from day one. Regular integration helps procurement align their strategies with the project goals and timelines.
      2. Define Clear VALUE Roles: Clarify the role and responsibilities of the procurement team within the project. This ensures everyone understands the value they bring and the areas they will influence.
      3. Leverage Their Market Insight: Procurement professionals deeply understand market trends and supplier capabilities. Utilise their insights to anticipate market changes and adjust your project strategy accordingly.
      4. Establish Open Communication Channels: Foster an environment where ongoing communication between procurement and your department is standard. This openness prevents misunderstandings and leverages collective expertise.
      5. Encourage Supplier Collaboration: Encourage your procurement team to develop strategic relationships with suppliers. Early collaboration can lead to innovation and improved terms, benefiting the project.

      Now, you can ensure that your procurement team contributes effectively and drives your projects to achieve and exceed their targets. Early procurement involvement isn’t just about cutting costs—it’s about adding value every step of the way. 

      The Wrap-Up

      • The challenges associated with getting involved early—ranges from internal resistance and misalignment of objectives to resource constraints. 
      • This underscore the need for a concerted effort to integrate procurement at the project’s inception. Tackling these hurdles head-on involves reshaping perceptions across departments, ensuring that procurement’s potential to add value is understood and embraced throughout the organisation. 
      • Advocating for getting involved early isn’t just about highlighting its benefits. It’s about transforming dialogue with stakeholders into action by establishing cross-functional teams, enhancing training and education, and integrating procurement processes from the get-go. These steps not only pave the way for smoother project execution but also set the stage for sustainable, long-term improvements in how projects are approached and managed. 
      • We argue that early procurement involvement is not just a process improvement—it’s a strategic enhancement. It’s where the real advantage can often be gained.