Consolidated purchasing for meetings, incentives
and events is now standard practice for many firms. The reasons are
myriad: Procurement departments can leverage the firm’s buying power,
track resources, prequalify preferred vendors and mandate spending caps.
the early days, procurement and meeting professionals were at odds, to
put it mildly, with little understanding of each other’s functions. But
now, five years or so down the road, procurement pros seem to have
learned from their early mistakes, though on occasion they can still
rile up even the most mild mannered of planners.
The key thing
planners have learned is that when it comes to consolidation and
procurement, resistance is futile — and it can be irresponsible: Don’t
forget the benefits procurement brings to the table. In short, planners
and procurement pros now are partners, for better or worse — but truly
better if both sides know and learn from the history of an often rocky
DROP THE ATTITUDE
— and I am one — did not like the initial procurement/consolidation
revolution because, frankly, it made us feel irrelevant. Not only was
it new and foreign (who are these faceless procurement people?), it was
tedious and left us with absurd quantities of paperwork.
top it off, procurement didn’t understand what a planner’s function was
or recognize their value; we felt they made us do some very
counterintuitive things, while it seemed like they were undermining our
expertise and authority.
For example, contracts were yanked
entirely out of our jurisdiction with lightning speed. This prompted
many planners to question if their negotiation skills, which took years
to prove worthy, would ever be required again.
departments quickly discovered, however, that one-size consolidation
did not fit all and eventually included planners back into the picture.
The upshot: When planners were involved in the rewriting/redesigning of
purchasing processes and helping to design proprietary software to
manage the consolidation process, efficiency increased exponentially.
we may no longer negotiate all the contracts, we can and should be
proactive about educating procurement on specific contract language and
techniques we’ve successfully used in the past.
an assertive, rather than dismissive, attitude will earn you respect
and a trusted ally. Develop an alliance with the procurement team
because they are tied more closely to revenue goals, strategic
initiatives and senior executives. Working more closely with your
procurement counterparts might end up elevating your status and profile
within the company.
now affects companies across the board and, in doing so, offers
different departments the opportunity to work more cross-functionally.
You might have worked in a vacuum previously, but adding value to
departments outside your own will make you a more valuable, versatile
employee. For example: Invite key players from different departments to
attend your team meetings and make an effort to sit in on theirs. Share
best practices on everything from workplace protocol to vendor
importantly, consolidation and procurement absolutely have raised the
bar with regard to compliance. The initial prime directive has been
successful — but it is up to you to demonstrate/communicate to
higher-ups that you have, indeed, saved the company money and resources.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is a meeting and event consultant based in San Carlos, Calif.