Reaching Out to Procurement

Lend your expertise to purchasing-driven initiatives

It's imperative to be a catalyst for efficiency and cost savings when working with procurement.

Recognize the value you bring to the organization, and clearly express that to procurement heads and other executives.

Approach procurement's involvement as a collaborative opportunity.

Be prepared with as much data as you can collect concerning your group's spend, as well as the cost savings you've achieved.

Work with procurement to license appropriate technology.

The following checklist was created by Todd Schwartz, CMP, president and founder of the Professional Planner Group. This is especially pertinent for planners within companies that are considering the implementation of a strategic meetings management program.

First StepsFind out who is in charge of the buying process within your company.

Make an appointment to meet with the appropriate department head, and inquire about the current policies for meetings and events. Ask what group-related data is being tracked, if any.

Gather data from your department and share with procurement the spend information, as well as negotiated discounts, for all suppliers (hotels, airlines, food and beverage, audiovisual, ground transportation, etc.).  

Look at procurement policies in other business units in your company. Are there applicable practices for your group?

Get buy-in from other department heads to fully integrate the meetings group into companywide initiatives. Cost savings likely will result from leveraging supplier relationships across every group.

Identify unnecessary spend by openly sharing data among all business units.

Clearly articulate what you can bring to the table. You may need to enlighten all stakeholders about your value to the organization.

Regularly benchmark and tabulate data. It can be a lengthy and arduous process, but in the end it will be good for the company and --even better -- your reputation.

Other ConsiderationsInvestigate with your procurement department software platforms that will aid in collecting and tracking data from your group and across the organization.

Recognize that procurement's ultimate goal is to achieve companywide savings, and work alongside them to assist with the specifics for your department.

Use the formats and processes that the procurement department has created for other units to the benefit of your team. Procurement should be focused on helping you to reduce risk and overall cost.

Identify all suppliers and ensure that you are meeting your procurement department's definition of purchasing goods or services at the right prices and terms.

Ensure that the purchasing department -- and any technology it uses -- integrates well with the accounts and warehousing departments.

Look to procurement for established best practices and policies for interacting with meeting suppliers.

Set procedures -- or seek established ones from procurement -- to evaluate any proposals and quotes that may come from your suppliers.

Be open and collaborative. Demonstrate your genuine professionalism through effective teamwork.

Don't be afraid to call your competition for insight and advice. They might not share specifics about their business practices, but they should be open to sharing general best procurement-related practices. They are meeting professionals, too, with the same vested interests in preserving and evolving our long-term roles in the corporate environment.