Lessons Learned from Best-in-Class, Part VI

The following are some more of the lessons learned shared by some of the participants at this year’s Hackett Best Practices conference in no particular order.

26. Operational transparency is a must
This is especially true if the Procurement organization is based in a (global) shared services organization and is forced to charge-back the organizational units for its services. Keep open books where the other organizational unit excutives are involved and be prepared to show how the value generated per Procurement dollar increases with time, otherwise the Procurement organization might be accused of attempting to make a power grab.

27. Perception always trumps reality
This is why the Procurement organization has to communicate, communicate, communicate, and communicate again. In the executive offices. In the hallways. With the line managers. Through the corporate newsletters. At the training sessions. If the rest of the organization does not have the true picture regarding Procurement and the value it contributes, the old-school perceptions of Procurement being non-value add tactical paper-pushers and process enforcers will persist and Procurement will risk losing its seat at the kiddie table.

This is also true when current processes and supplier relationships are on the table. If the organizational personnel perceive them as effective and efficient and the “right way to do things”, even if all three perceptions are false, it will be almost impossible to get the personnel to change the processes until they see the limitations and weaknesses and see that the proposed processes are better and come with additional benefits. The same holds for supplier relationships.

28. Procurement can never be satisfied with the status quo
Since the value delivered is never enough, and the cost of delivering that value is never low enough, no matter how good Procurement is, it still has to improve — even if it is world class (as this is a moving target that moves as soon as a competitor passes an organization that has stopped to take a breather). The reality is that no one cares about what Procurement did yesterday, they are only concerned about the value Procurement is going to bring tomorrow and how they are going to make their numbers.

29. Procurement needs to be an enablement function
It needs to go beyond cost reduction and avoidance and consider the end-to-end financial implications for working capital management, the risks associated with the supply plan and appropriate mitigations, and the innovation it can bring to the table. Procurement has the greatest impact when it is consulted early on in new projects, not after almost all of the designs have been completed and decisions have been made and the only cost left to take out are in the transaction. If Procurement is involved in NPD, it can take cost out before 80% of the costs are locked in.

If Procurement is involved in Marketing vendor selection, it can make sure that contracts disassociate creative from copy and bid out commodity print or production jobs to the lowest bidder. If Procurement is involved in law firm selection, it can help steer Legal to those that are capable of doing the work and willing to do AFAs (Alternate Fee Arrangements) on a project or task basis and steer the business away from the costly unlimited billable hour. And if it is seen as an enablement function that can help in project definition as well as project implementation, it can not only play a larger role in the business, but secure better results in the long run

Our next post will continue our overview of the lessons learned that were shared by some of the participants at this year’s Hackett Best Practices conference.