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Webinar Notes: Collaborative Procurement: Using Relationships to Drive Influence and Results

Webinar Notes: Collaborative Procurement: Using Relationships to Drive Influence and Results

These webinar notes are based on a June 17th event hosted by Puridiom and presented by Andrew Bartolini from Ardent Partners. If you are interested in viewing the full event on demand, you can do so here after a quick registration.

Based on Ardent Partners’ CPO Rising 2015 Report (which you can read more about here) this event focused in on the CPO’s agenda around collaboration, which is arguably one of the highest priorities for everyone in procurement. Even more interesting are the observations we can make when you look at the relationship between collaboration and influence.

For starters, and as Bartolini stated in the event, you can’t have influence without collaboration - because no function is an island. This has its roots in the timing of procurement’s engagement with the business. Influence is not an on-again, off-again quality, which means that while it is important to engage as soon as possible, it is probably better not to disengage in the first place. Not only does staying connected take care of the lead time problem procurement so often faces, it also changes the role procurement plays and how we are regarded by the business. For instance, if we come in at the last minute, we are ‘order takers.’ If we are constantly present, we are partners.

Agility, the focus of the overall CPO Rising 2015 Agenda, plays an important role in influence building as well. There are plenty of reasons for procurement to want to be agile, but wanting to have influence requires that we be agile – almost by definition. Being at the center of the action requires agility, and why would an influential person or team be anywhere else?

Influential teams want to do better, as do the majority of the participants in the CPO Rising study. One important distinction implied (but perhaps not intended) by the event’s title is that influence and results are not one in the same. Generating results (i.e. hitting your numbers) is important, but it does not naturally lead to influence. Influence is something that must be built deliberately on top of and addition to results.

Spend under management, another one of those critical procurement metrics, is another joining point for influence and collaboration. To minimize the spend NOT under management, collaborate with stakeholders and budget owners. To maximize the value of spend ALREADY under management, collaborate with suppliers. And specifically with regard to spend not under management, study it and look for generalizations or other indications about where there are holes in procurement’s current influence. Is there a large pool of spend from one country? One operating unit? One category?

The last thing about collaboration that will affect our ability to build influence is motivation. When are we collaborating because we have to and when are we doing it because we want to, or because it comes naturally? The CPO Rising study found that we are collaborating better (or more often) with the CFO than we are with stakeholders and suppliers. The question that I think follows that information is who do we want to have influence with: finance, stakeholders, or suppliers? This may actually be a trick question, as I think it is a reasonable assumption that a person who has influence with stakeholders and suppliers will also have influence with finance as a result.

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