I hope that you have enjoyed the article “10-Step Procurement Transformation, Part II.”
One of the steps that I feel particularly strongly about is #9 – Create Policies to Support Transformation.
It takes me back to the time I was working for a large university. The university, which had a very not-for-profit, government-related culture, brought me in to introduce private industry best practices and deliver measurable benefit.
Prior to my arrival, the university’s purchasing approach was very decentralized. It had been thought that if end users can have access to a purchasing system and learn how to use it, then let them do the buying themselves. “Academic freedom” was a commonly-heard phrase.
Well, obviously the management who instituted that approach to buying had no clue as to the benefits of leveraging its spend, working collaboratively in the context of supplier relationships to improve performance, avoiding the consequences of uninformed buying decisions, etc. So that was a challenge facing me, my team, and my management.
At the core of our strategy was putting in place enterprise-wide contracts that leveraged the university’s spend and afforded us deep discounts. But compliance was a concern. We believed that eProcurement would address compliance to some degree because it was so easy for the end users to not only place orders, but to identify what to buy and from whom.
But we knew eProcurement alone wasn’t the total solution.
In a great (and rare) example of getting support for an initiative up through many levels of the bigger-than-necessary chain of command – there were 3 positions between myself and the chancellor, not inclusive, at the time – we were able to get two key policies incorporated into the Policies & Procedures Manual. They were:
1. If a university representative is going to purchase a product or service and that product or service is available from a contracted supplier, the university representative must purchase that product or service from a contracted supplier.
2. If a univerisity representative is going to purchase a product or service and that product or service is available through the university’s eProcurement system, the university representative must purchase that product or service through the eProcurement system.
So maverick buying became not just a nuisance for the purchasing department. It was a violation of university policy.
That was a key facet in our procurement transformation.
Don’t underestimate the importance of Step 9!
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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