A recent article over on TechCrunch on how you need to win the battle for share of mind makes a great point of how any organization that wants to grow over time needs to win mind share if it wants to survive, and thrive, over the long term. Not just start-ups. Just like a start-up has to do more than get people to play with its hot product for more than six months if it wants to be around next year, Supply Management needs to do more than just get people talking about some quick-hit cost savings if it wants to ingrain itself into the core processes of each of the business units it supports.
For Supply Management to truly become the central cog in the organizational wheel, and become the first organization consulted on any project, it has to gain permanent mind share among its stakeholders. Engineering has to think of Supply Management as the organization that can identify new potential sources of material and supply before that product is designed, not just the paper pushes who will execute the buy. Legal has to think of Supply Management as the organization in the best position to judge the potential of an M&A, not just the organization that sends the cheque to the external council. Marketing has to think of Supply Management as the organization that can help it understand the market dynamics of the new geographies it wants to expand into, not just the organization that buys the paper.
So how do we do this? We have to solve real problems and provide real value. This has to go beyond just saving 10% on a contract renewal, because high cost isn’t a problem, it’s a symptom. Either the right supplier wasn’t at the table, or the right logistics strategy wasn’t employed, or the right should cost models weren’t used, or the right contract wasn’t negotiated. If supplier discovery and management, network design and management, and contract negotiation and management were all done right the last time, there’d be no money to save (unless raw material prices dropped, but that would be immediately apparent from the should-cost models that used market indices and a pricing formula to capture index changes could be written into the contract to insure the organization gets to take advantage of lower prices immediately). In all but the rarest of situations, savings are only possible because the issue wasn’t addressed right last time.
The rest of the organization has to see Supply Management as the organization that can help their business unit get it right and prevent unecessary spending in the first place. The organization that will get supplier discovery and management, network design and management, and contract negotiation and management right the first time. The organization that will bring true value to their business unit. If we can do that, not only will we have our permanent seat at the big kids table, but we’ll be the central cog in the organizational wheel. We’ll finally be where we’re supposed to be.
So how do we do that?
We start, as pointed out by Lamar Chesney, CPO of SunTrust, and summarized in this Sourcing Innovation post, by learning what value is to our stakeholders and communicating that message. Then to get to value we align perspectives and work together towards the goal. Next we capture the value in an appropriate agreement that focusses on the required solution, not just tactical t’s and c’s. Finally, we help the stakeholder organization with execution because value doesn’t exist until it is realized, and if it’s not realized, we’ll get blamed and fail to capture our much needed mind share. And when all is said and done, we’ll be the secret agent of business improvement.