Today’s guest post is from Diego De La Garza, a Senior Project Manager at Source One Management Services and a regularly sourced pundit for sourcing issues in Latin America. As Senior Project Manager, he leads a team of internal resources in the development of strategies to reduce costs and increase service levels for clients.
When organizations undertake new sourcing initiatives, much is said about setting clear objectives for the parties involved and establishing attainable timelines. However, stakeholder engagement is often neglected. Regardless of their business unit, stakeholders will only participate when they clearly understand the process and appreciate the value that strategic sourcing can deliver. However, unlike a timeline or objective, stakeholder engagement may be volatile and cannot just be monitored. It needs to be driven. How quick and how much all stakeholders engage will be paramount to maximize the success of the initiative.
So how, do we drive stakeholder engagement in general? First of all, the expectations need to be adequately communicated to all stakeholders, and their feedback must be requested upfront. The stakeholders’ needs, concerns, and requirements are unique and must be understood. Empathizing with the stakeholders will allow them to see the engagement as an opportunity to drive results, and a clear chance for them to add value that otherwise would be limited due to resource constraints.
The key with communicating with stakeholders is speaking their language. In other words, we cannot engage stakeholders in the finance department by speaking in the terms of the marketing team, and IT will not understand why an initiative is important to Finance. Ongoing communication is the only way a stakeholder will understand his or her requirements are being accounted for.
Stakeholders should also identify the parties involved. In cases where strategic sourcing consulting firms are employed, stakeholders can be offered information, expertise, additional resources, or access to data that will support a successful sourcing engagement. All stakeholders involve must be able to understand what this external party brings to the table, how to collaborate more effectively with that third party, and how to utilize these resources available at their disposal.
Another key ingredient for stakeholder engagement comes from the higher levels of the organization and entails strong sponsorship. Sponsorship drives stakeholder engagement because it acts as the voice within the organization. When senior leadership establishes a deep commitment within a sourcing initiative, it validates efforts and aligns departments. Even when expectations are clear, and roles are well defined, stakeholders who perceive low levels of sponsorship will not engage to their full potential or will lose interest quick.
Stakeholder engagement is essential because it creates collaboration across business units, even in cases where sponsorship is lacking, or other stakeholders seem disinterested. When stakeholders are engaged, they become loyal supporters of the sourcing initiative. Driving shareholder engagement is a dedicated effort. As needs change and evolve, checks and balances should be managed throughout in order to increase the success of the initiative.