While there may be a dirty dozen of risk categories that we need to address in order to adequately address the Procurement Damnations we have willingly placed ourselves in as we try to collectively forge a new frontier, the largest category of risk that we need to address is that of Technology. Almost one fifth of all damnations that plague us fall into the technology category. This is the latest technology damnation that we are going to address. Even though it’s difficult.
As we mentioned when we penned the original damnation series, social media might be the most damning of them all. Besides the obvious facts that we collectively as a society waste enough time on a single video to double the size of Wikipedia (Source), that social media is literally making us stupid (Source), and that every marketer and their dog is doing their best to convince you that your company has to be on every social network in existence (including the dozen that are literally here today and gone tomorrow as Facebook and Twitter have pretty much won the social media war in the English speaking world for the time being), there is the simple fact that social media takes more than it gives.
So how do we survive? How do we deal with the fact that despite the fact that social media was designed for people to be social with each other, and not for businesses to sell wares to consumers, and certainly not for businesses to sell goods to each other, we are constantly bombarded by social media firms that tell us we can use social media to conduct important, strategic, operations.
And if having to deal with the outside pressure isn’t enough, you are constantly bombarded with requests from marketing for information about your supply chain efficiency, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or other operations and practices that can be used to boost corporate image, brand reputation, or product differentiation on these outlets. You’re working hard to define and implement proper category management techniques on dozens of strategic and high-value categories but all marketing cares about is which supplier will get the organization the most free press, whether the “in vogue” corporate social responsibility practice of the day is getting enough attention, or if the new product being sourced will have enough bell-and-whistle features to allow for one dozen unique messages for each social media channel of interest. It’s inane, insane, and both.
And then, to make matters worse, rather than use your supplier portal, your suppliers want to message you on the social network they are signed into 24/7, your partners are checking the never updated Facebook company page instead of the official contact directory, and eliminated vendors keep messaging your organization’s Facebook and Twitter accounts asking marketing why they are no longer being considered, rather than read the detailed explanation in the vendor management portal you provided them.
So What Can You Do?
1. Refuse to answer meaningless marketing inquiries and instead change the conversation.
When marketing asks if the new product being sourced will have lots of features to wrap messaging around, simply state that the product is being sourced to corporate specifications, and that full details will be provided.
When they ask about CSR practices, simply inform them that you have vetted all suppliers using a third party and that they should read the appropriate reports.
And when they ask if you use twitter, simply point out that is their job. Don’t get distracted.
2. Adopt Procurement tools with integrated messaging, message boards, and social media like features in the communication portal.
If your Procurement portal gives the suppliers what they want, then they won’t be constantly asking to message you on Facebook, Twitter, or the platform de jour.
3. Help Marketing select the right CRM and social media monitoring platform.
Even though it’s the last platform you should touch, it is marketing’s livelihood – so it’s critical to make sure that if they are going to be using such a platform, that they are at least using the best one available. And if you can find one that meets all of their needs, maybe they will spend all of their time on it instead of bothering you.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it will at least allow you to survive, if you are strong enough. (Because only the strong survive.)