Strategic procurement teams must be able to work closely with many departments throughout the organization, while still keeping the organization's broad-spectrum goals in mind. Better relationships with individual departments will make it easier for procurement professionals to meet the needs of the respective departments without compromising their overall mission. Through better strategic procurement, an organization will be able to fine-tune its operations, improving the productivity and efficiency of the company.
Define Your Core Business Objectives
Every department has its own goals in sight. An organization works best when departments are able to focus, but as a strategic procurement officer, you need to make sure that you're following the core business objectives. Your role is to ensure that each department gets what it needs in order to reach their goals.
Begin by defining core business objectives to make sure that all departments are on the same page. If needed, refine objectives with team input.
The latter is essential; if departments feel as though they aren't being listened to and don't have a voice in the process, they may be inclined to "check out." When defining your core objectives, consider the input from all departments. Very often, you may find that one department has unique insights in their area of expertise that might not otherwise have been noticed.
Review Your Current Processes
Take a look at your current procurement process to identify potential issues and areas of improvement. This process is often referred to as an internal audit. An audit is a structured, rigorous process in which you will go through each of your organization's procurement methods, identifying risks and assessing current challenges. The goal of an audit is to find existing issues and inefficiencies, often before they become a serious problem. Once these issues and inefficiencies are uncovered, the auditor must find solutions.
This is an ideal time to strengthen your team relationships and work closely with other departments. Specific departments may have ideas regarding how their own procurement processes can be streamlined and improved, and they may also be able to point out issues with proposed solutions.
Redefine How Strategic Procurement Aligns With Company Goals
Strategic procurement isn't only about solving the supply chain problems of today; it's also about protecting the company against the issues of tomorrow. Not only does strategic procurement need to suit the demands of the current departments, but the goals outlined in the first step also have to be kept in mind. Strategic procurement processes should be analyzed to determine whether or not they truly align with both the company's goals and inter-departmental goals, and if they do not, then actions should be taken to better align them.
Ideally, strategic procurement should be poised to lead to future growth for an organization, while also being a stabilizing force in the event that the organization goes through rough times.
Make a Plan for Continued Evaluation
Inter-department relationships need to be continually strengthened, while processes should be continually revised. Procurement specialists should regularly examine their current strategic deployments, analyzing for any potential changes that could lower risk, reduce inefficiency, or better leverage existing resources. In doing this, procurement specialists should also regularly consult with the departments that they are connected to, to find out whether there may be things that they could be doing better, or whether the department's needs have shifted.
Continued evaluations at regular intervals will ultimately aid the organization in progress, expansion, and growth. An organization's needs can change over time, and a procurement specialist may not be aware of these changes unless the doorways to communication remain open. Continued evaluations will also identify any problems that have arisen with the current procurement strategies, and departments may have ideas on how to improve organizational strategies even beyond current optimization.
By building better relationships within an organization, a procurement team will be able to better serve a company and its departments. Procurement managers are going to have to work closely with departments within their organization to both assess and meet their needs.
Procurement professionals must meet the needs of their team as well as their organization, and this often requires juggling multiple categories and identifying opportunities. While a department may need more advanced tools, an organization may also need to reduce costs; though these needs can be seen as conflicting, they're truly an opportunity for both the organization and the department to find a path towards long-term solutions.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.