2 Ways To Wield Procurement Influence
How Can You Be More Influential In Your Procurement Role?
PurchTips Edition #378
By Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
A key to being successful in procurement is influencing change – getting stakeholders to embrace new approaches. This is sometimes difficult, usually either because a procurement professional does not know how to be influential or because s/he is trying to wield influence in the opposite way s/he should. To experience less difficulty in influencing change, consider these two ways to wield procurement influence:
Sideways Procurement Influence. This is when you directly influence a stakeholder to embrace change. Humans are generally resistant to change. However, change is easier to “sell” when you can clearly communicate to your stakeholder “what’s in it for them.” “What’s in it” for stakeholders usually comes in the form of a solution or a benefit. Let stakeholders tell you what their problems are. Then, you are armed with information that can help you correlate your change with a solution to those problems. While solutions involve eliminating negative circumstances, benefits involve introducing new, positive circumstances. Benefits can be harder to sell than solutions because it can be difficult to envision new circumstances. And there are no guarantees of success. But, often, the most challenging thing for procurement professionals is understanding what a benefit is in the stakeholder’s eyes. The classic procurement benefit of “achieving cost savings” may not be a benefit in the eyes of stakeholders. Instead, they may see more value in benefits such as ability to add staff, quicker cycle times, less bureaucracy, more control over their work, and the like.
Up-Then-Down Procurement Influence. There are situations when stakeholders resist change – even positive change for the business – because it involves some sort of personal discomfort or disruption. For example, “achieving cost savings” is an undeniable benefit to the business, but may not be a priority to a stakeholder. Some stakeholders may fear that cost savings will prompt management to cut their budgets. When the business stands to benefit from a change but stakeholders resist it because of how it affects their domain, then Sideways Procurement Influence will never be effective. Stakeholders will not volunteer to make sacrifices for the greater good of the business. Therefore, you need to persuade senior management that your recommended change is a good idea. Then, from their higher rank on the organizational chart, senior management can influence – or issue a mandate for – stakeholders to cooperate with the change.
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