Establishing procurement as a trusted advisor

September 10, 2019

Utilizing available technology, procurement teams are increasingly trying to demonstrate their strategic value to internal stakeholders. By gathering intelligence and analyzing data they are  communicating their success but procurement still struggles to be seen as a trusted advisor. In order to be seen as a trusted adviser, procurement needs to develop a plan to build their brand, find champions and communicate their value.

Build your brand. Depending on the size and age of your company, the value of procurement may not be fully understood. Procurement is often seen as the department that comes in to cut budgets and slash projects but they are also so much more than that. Jean Johnson, Global Head of Procurement at LogMeIn, was able to combat these stereotypes by building relationships in each department. She found that placing members of her procurement team into their assigned departments was extremely effective. If they were on the ground every day they had stronger relationships, better understood the nature of the business and were seen as a strategic partner on purchasing decisions.

Find executive champions. Once you’ve made an assessment of your internal brand, you need to find executive sponsors who are willing to work with you and advocate for procurement. Greg Tennyson, Head of Sourcing and Procurement at VSP Global, explained that this is not done by forcing yourself into meetings but rather finding an executive champion who is willing to double down, participate in your strategic initiatives and grow with you.  When launching a new project set up a meeting with your team to set goals and expectations and clarify initiatives. This executive-level sponsorship is crucial for making large-scale projects that span different internal functions work properly.

Celebrate the small wins. If you’re new to the procurement role in your company or are working on a major internal re-branding, celebrating the small wins is crucial to establishing procurement as a trusted adviser. Take a look at your portfolio, identify the low hanging fruit and negotiate. Typically existing contracts, operations and office supplies are the first place to look. One way to do this? Start managing your tail spend. Investing in Fairmarkit’s Tail Spend Management Software allows you to save an average of 6-12% without adding additional headcount. Managing tail spend is also a great way to minimize risk.

Communicate your value.  As you start to develop your reputation don’t be afraid to share your wins. If your team has helped negotiate a new contract for marketing or saved money for operations, tell people about it! Create an internal case study, share your successes in a company-wide email and pitch your value to other departments and teams.

The key to establishing procurement as a trusted adviser is developing relationships and transforming the function from cost savings to value adding. When you are seen as a strategic partner rather than a cost cutting tyrant you will social capital grow and the cost savings will come along with it.

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