Redefining Procurement Series: Talent Management (Part 1)
My past 2 posts in the Redefining Procurement Series were focused around the need for procurement to develop high levels of Stakeholder Communication Skills. However, the fact of the matter is there is a shortage of people with the right skills and experience to successfully communicate with the wide variety of stakeholders that exist within any business. Given your average category manager’s role is to go out into the market and get the best value for money, there is no wonder the internal communications element has fallen by the wayside.
There is a growing consensus amongst leading CPOs that the actual team structure of a successful procurement operation needs to consist of the more traditional, savings driven procurement professionals in addition to these new, internally focused communicators – however finding all these skills in one person is quite rare (and/or expensive).
Increasingly what is needed is a business partner, someone who sits between procurement and the various internal stakeholders (with the CPO maintaining the interaction with the board). This business partner acts as a bridge, interpreting the wants and needs of the stakeholder, challenging their thinking and ways of working and then defining a project spec for the category team to go out to market.
Stephen Wills, Director of Group Procurement for AXA, took this postulation one step further during a recent interview “by partnering with the business and being involved from the demands management stage, they [category managers] are very much sitting in the business engaging with their respective teams early in the process and consequently able to shape the definition of requirements. This internal interaction puts them in a very good position to run RFP’s, go to market and negotiate and deliver the savings target, and these savings targets year on year, have increased. In fact they’ve increased as my absolute head count in my team has reduced.”
Overall this business partner ensures:
- Understanding of your individual stakeholder’s needs, frustrations, challenges as well as their drivers (personal and professional)
- There are some early wins to build trust in the stakeholders eyes – ensuring repeat business
- Consistency in the message you are delivering to the stakeholder (and within the procurement team)
- A greater focus on relationships – ensuring procurement is seen as a value adding function above pure cost savings (how are you enabling your stakeholder to acheive their targets / goals?)
- The immediate procurement team can focus on core, strategic procurement elements and not get bogged down with the internal assurance piece
- There is someone who understands and interprets the business needs in a language that the procurement team will respond to.
The question becomes who is this business partner and where do they come from – someone inside the business or external to the organisation? From a Procurement background or not?...