As I commented on last week, I received a number of interesting suggestions for round-table discussion topics at next week’s CPO Exchange in Sydney. The one that grabbed my attention the most was one that posed the question: “How do we break down resistance from people thinking Procurement are disablers, as opposed to enablers?”
In answering this, my first instinct would be to pose the question “are we disablers as opposed to enablers?” Are our internal stakeholders right in thinking that we are royal pains in the arse, always worrying about cost and process, and therefore to be avoided? Or are we the trusted advisors we would like to think we are, helping them in whatever way we can?
I am sure there are many procurement practitioners out there, and indeed whole procurement teams, that can hand on heart say that they fall into the latter camp, both acting as, and being perceived as, a valuable and trusted business partner. However, I am equally sure that there are even more who, if they put themselves in the shoes of their stakeholders, instead of viewing things from within their own procurement –based prism, would have to admit that there is a reason why those stakeholders see them as road-blocks or disablers.
In the early 90’s I worked for a period with a very dynamic business in the insurance sector. The managing director of this business was a very entrepreneurial and successful guy, who had built the business from nothing into a sizeable concern. He would frequently label people ‘business prevention officers’ (BPO’s) and once labelled, they were to be avoided at all cost. He was usually referring to the kind of people who were sticklers for process, rules and regulations. While Occupational Health and Safety people were top of his hit list, I could well see how some procurement people would quickly attain the BPO title. In a fast moving, growing business, his priority was to get the job done. Anything that got in the way, or slowed things down, was to be avoided.
Just imagine that this guy was one of your key internal stakeholders /customers. Do you think he would see you as a BPO? Or would he welcome you with open arms because you are going to help him get the job done, to get the outcome he is looking for? To understand whether or not your actions are seen as enabling or disabling, you really need to put yourself in the other guys shoes.
The original question refers to “breaking down resistance from people thinking that procurement are disablers”. If people think this, then the likelihood is that from their perspective, with what they see as being their priorities, procurement is a disabler. This is their reality. And they are going to continue to think this until they see demonstrable evidence that it is not the case.
Which brings me neatly round to the theme of the 3rd Annual PASA Premier ConfeX in October. “Creating Procurement Value through Alignment” is all about meeting the needs of our customers or stakeholders. And while we might be using the nice title “creating procurement value”, the cold hard reality is that if procurement doesn’t get this right, if we don’t learn better how to understand our internal customers, needs wants, culture etc, then we face being increasingly labelled as BPO’s and being marginalised to the point of extinction. Over two days at Crown, in October, an outstanding speaker faculty will address these challenges, providing all procurement practitioners interested in the future of the profession, with a unique forum to share knowledge and experience to ensure that in the future the business thinks we are ‘enablers’ – because we are.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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