Does your role as a meeting planner, strategic meetings management (SMM) category lead or project manager require you to work with or otherwise report to your corporate procurement department? In some cases, doing so is not an issue, but in other cases, it can be complicated. This holds true as well if you are working with a colleague in so-called indirect procurement, which involves the purchasing of services or supplies necessary to keep the day-to-day business running, as opposed to directly adding to the business' bottom line.
Unfortunately, I often hear unflattering things about procurement professionals, which is a shame. As a former global procurement category leader at Hewlett-Packard, I always felt we were uniquely positioned for success due to our strategy and belief that the ideal person to manage, source and contribute policymaking in a designated category should be knowledgeable about the area they were managing.
If you are working with a colleague in procurement and struggling with the situation, here are some common myths I hereby debunk, having worn both hats - and many more - in my career.
1) Procurement only focuses on lowest cost.
While all procurement professionals should consider cost savings, it is only one consideration in an end‐to‐end sourcing process. If you can help your procurement colleagues to understand the best value proposition, then the emphasis on cost savings takes a lesser priority. It should be your role as the meetings or SMM expert to educate your procurement colleagues. The more time you spend up front in doing this, the better the alignment and collaboration experience. This will also make any future collaborations easier if they understand your world and its unique challenges and needs. You can also help to educate them on the supplier competitive landscape, which is critical in fashioning an optimal RFP or sourcing engagement. Helpful hint: In case your procurement colleagues don't ask you, provide and review with them your list of priorities and expectations for the sourcing engagement. This will help them to source your needs and create the overall value proposition in supplier selection.
2) Working with procurement slows down the workflow.
There are many reasons why this can happen, but one of the most common explanations is because your procurement colleagues need to follow a set process that requires management alignment, education and buy‐in approvals. In every sourcing engagement, as part of their corporate role, these colleagues work with the legal and finance departments to ensure company standards, policies and guidelines are followed. The primary role of a procurement professional is to protect the company's interests and mitigate any gaps and potential risky areas they encounter. Oftentimes those gaps are related to contract language or policies and processes that need changes. Do whatever you can to help speed up the process and work as a team supporting each other. If you want them to take an interest in what you do, you should do the same and take an interest in what they're doing. Working together and mutually supporting the goals and objectives will help to speed things up and also contribute to optimum outcomes.
3) Procurement doesn't understand my job and what I do.
That might be true, so make time to educate them on the job and area you work in for your company. Be upfront and explain what the challenges are, where you have noticed gaps in services, supplier readiness and execution, flawed processes and even current policies. The more you take the time to educate them, the better the partnership alignment and experience you will have with procurement.
Hopefully these tips will help you in improved collaboration and better working relationship with procurement, where both parties can leverage each other's skills and experiences to achieve the best results for your company and your career.
Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto.