How to get consulted earlier in a project: Insights from PASA’s Procurement Roadblocks Hackathon

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Led by Agile Coach Marcus Ward, a group of procurement managers gathered together on Zoom yesterday to brainstorm the key roadblocks facing procurement and their solutions.

Aspirational procurement

Marcus began the day by asking the group to share one-word answers to the question “If Carlsberg made Procurement”. Referring to a well-known ad campaign by Carlsberg, the question asked what procurement would look like in a perfect world (without any roadblocks). Here are the answers:

“Responsive” was the most common answer, reflecting the theme of the previous day’s PASA Premier Confex and the profession’s agile response to the enormous challenge posed by COVID-19.

Similarly, attendees were asked to send themselves “postcards from the future”; again, indicating what they would like procurement to be. Answers included:

  • Procurement included in key strategic decisions early on
  • Trusted advisors to the business
  • Proactive
  • Opinions sought
  • Being a part of creating strategy, not just following it
  • Problem-solvers who are plugged into the data
  • Aligned and delivering meaningful value
  • Experimenters with a purpose.

MURAL brainstorming

Marcus then introduced the team to MURAL, a digital workspace for visual collaboration. MURAL is packed with features, but for the purposes of the day we made use of its stickynotes to recreate the experience of an Agile workshop (which always goes through reams of post-it notes). First, the team brainstormed the roadblocks facing procurement.

The top two results according a vote were:

  1. Procurement not being consulted at the beginning of a project. (Why not?)
  2. Customers expected an Amazon-like buying experience. (Why does it take so long? Why do I have to fill in these forms? Why is there a conflict between speed and compliance?)

With limited time, the team decided to focus on the first roadblock: procurement being brought in too late.

Five whiskies and a hotel 

This headline refers to give question words beginning with “W” (Who, What, When, Why, Where) and one beginning with “H” (How). When applied to the roadblock above, this is what we came up with [click on the image to make it bigger]:

Hacking time

The final session of the day finally gave the team the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to the roadblock. Now that everyone had a great understanding of the topic, the virtual stickynotes flowed fast:

Here are the top five solutions, as voted on by the team:

To get invited into a project earlier, procurement needs to:

  1. Invest time in building relationships with stakeholders
  2. Understand business drivers and speak the language of various functions, i.e. Finance.
  3. Gain a better understanding of enterprise strategy and business challenges
  4. When invited late to a project, highlight bad outcomes and show stakeholders what could have been possible if procurement was consulted earlier.
  5. Focus on educating employees on how to get the most value out of working with procurement.

Interested in learning more about Agile Procurement? Download the PASA Agile White Paper here: https://pasaagile.com/download-the-pasa-agile-white-paper/

About Author

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PASA (Procurement and Supply Australasia) is the leading provider of information, education and networking opportunities to procurement professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, training, awards and PASA CONNECT membership network. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing Pty Ltd. BTTB Marketing has operated under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences and PASA names for over twenty years. https://procurementandsupply.com/

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