Procurement: how to help people collaborate


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Procurement folks have hard jobs. Not only do they have to find the right vendors and keep them in line – a Herculean task at best – but they have to manage all of their internal stakeholders. I began thinking about procurement when a colleague mentioned ‘buyers’ and I realized there was a whole field of folks who could be using Buying Facilitation® as a new skill set to enhance relationships, better manage the bottom line, and help companies serve those who serve them.

Procurement used to be a field made up of people with the green eyeshades and suspenders and bow ties. Nerds. Necessary evils. Now they are very, very sophisticated indeed. Some have even grown to the point of making procurement a profit center rather than a cost center. While they seem to be dragging their feet a bit adopting technology, they have certainly developed a highly refined sense of business (the value chain, the stakeholder’s initiatives, cradle to grave supply chain management) and are quite sophisticated.


What, actually, is the role of the buyer? What is possible? How does a company leverage the function side with the human side – and what do they lose/gain either way? What is the differential between the transactional jobs, and the strategic ones – and what happens when there is a preponderance of one at the expense of the other? What sort of leadership capability do we give our buyers? [Given they know everyone in the company and all of the requirements, hires, suppliers, and management seems they can be playing a far larger role within the company than they are being given now.] What is the differential between trust and metrics – and what happens if there is a lean more to one side over the other?

What skills do buyers need in order to bridge the parts of the company that they manage: the inside vs. the outside, things vs. people, doing vs being, money vs. creativity and relationships? When we realize that buyers, like the sales folks, are the touch points in the company, the face that outsiders get to know, we realize how important the job is.

Daily, buyers deal with relationships with internal stakeholders, have contract negotiations with suppliers, and market themselves within the organization. If they have no engineering skills and they get requirements for engineering, there is bound to be some sort of  ‘issue’ between the procurement folks and the internal stakeholder. If there is a large deal coming up, sometimes the stakeholders don’t bring in the procurement folks early enough.

And to do their jobs well, they must, they must know their stakeholders, and understand their business problems. Some buyers sit and wait for requirements. Others get to know the stakeholders and help them develop requirements. Guess which one is more successful 🙂


From conversations I’ve had, it seems to me that companies are not giving the procurement folks all of the skills they need to do their best jobs. It should be recognized that buyers absolutely must have the capability to manage relationships through time, because without this skill the myriads of relationships that buyers have are dependent upon the natural capabilities of each buyer.

Managing buy-in is the pre-eminent skill required here. Of course, as the developer of a decision facilitation model I’m a hammer always seeking a nail, but think about it for a moment: Like in the field of sales, procurement folks need to get buy-in as part of their job to match the criteria of the stakeholders and suppliers to ensure ongoing collaboration, regardless of the numerous pitfalls that crop up in any deal, and work together seemlessly for the good of the company.

How can they negotiate respectfully, and not contentiously, to ensure a long, successful relationship that offers the best prices, leadership and loyalty, and honesty? How can they collaborate and serve to help stakeholders design their best initiatives, get the right people and funding, and ensure their requirements are complete? How can they work with suppliers to ensure they get the best deals and not sacrifice quality?

Maybe it’s time for procurement folks to begin to think about facilitating buy-in – you know, help stakeholders and suppliers recognize the criteria they need to have met in order to work effectively, collaboratively, and honestly with procurement, so they can establish win-win communications on a regular basis.

The procurement folks are a very very valuable company resource. Let’s make sure they are given all of the tools they need to serve their suppliers and stakeholders, as a way to serve the company. They are the backbone, the foundation of the company. It’s time to serve them and make sure they have what they need to do their best jobs for us.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sharon-Drew Morgen
I'm an original thinker. I wrote the NYT Bestseller Selling with Integrity and 8 other books bridging systemic brain change models with business, for sales, leadership, communications, coaching. I invented Buying Facilitation(R) (Buy Side support), How of Change(tm) (creates neural pathways for habit change), and listening without bias. I coach, train, speak, and consult companies and teams who seek Servant Leader models.


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