The highest performing procurement teams are operating at a different level.
Deeply respected by their organisations, delivering twice as much value as the average function, and attracting the best people from the profession and the wider business.
They provide true competitive advantage to their organisations, and are a joy to be a part of.
So, what do they do differently?
The secret is that they operate at a more strategic level.
Delivering strategically is a virtuous cycle: positive impact, leading to increased recognition, driving increased investment in the function, which in turn helps them to do more great work.
How do they do this?
No longer 'a throat to choke' (🤢) to be shouted at when a discount is needed or something is wrong, the best performing teams recognise the importance of collaboration and partnership with suppliers.
They cultivate a manageable network of (really) strategic suppliers with visibility and engagement at the c-suite.
They establish trust and open lines of communication, helping to negotiate better contracts and gaining access to valuable market insights, which creates mutually beneficial partnerships.
They are customers of choice - that the suppliers best people want to work with.
They build strong relationships in the team and with stakeholders - selling the virtues of great procurement, early engagement and delivering the right outcome for the whole organisation.
They invest in professional development opportunities for their team members, especially training programs over and above the standard corporate offering - focussing on soft skills and emotional intelligence.
By continuously enhancing their skills and knowledge, these teams are better placed to drive innovation, build relationships and deliver more. They keep a close eye on emerging technologies and industry best practices to adapt and evolve.
A passion for excellence is shared by all the best teams. They strive for high-quality outcomes, paying attention to the important details and working at speed. These teams set and maintain rigorous standards.
They understand the transformative power of technology. They proactively experiment and invest in procurement software, automation tools and analytics platforms to streamline their operations.
With the help of technology, these teams are able to gain insights and make data-driven decisions at a strategic level, whilst automating manual tasks and increasing efficiency.
They understand that fully leveraging tech is the only way that procurement can deliver everything it needs to for the organisation.
Innovation is a vital quality of the best teams. They think beyond traditional approaches, proactively seeking innovative solutions and exploring new sourcing approaches. They think differently to make sure their organisation can effectively adopt sustainable procurement practices, increase value from the supply base
A long term, strategic mindset fosters a better quality, longer lasting form of decision making. These teams consider factors beyond immediate cost savings, such as the total cost of ownership, supplier relationship longevity, and long term risk management. This helps reduce tactical, reactive decision making which sees the wrong suppliers being brought in for a short term need that ultimately wastes time and effort.
By taking a holistic view and considering the long-term impact of procurement decisions, they mitigate risk, ensure supplier stability, and create sustainable value for the organisation.
Customer-centricity is at the core of strategic procurement teams. This can be both internal customers (stakeholders) and external customers. They align with the needs and goals of internal stakeholders - acting outside the silo and avoiding politics. They actively understand the customer and ensure suppliers understand and delight their customers too.
Teams foster a collaborative work environment that encourages autonomy, innovation and growth. They provide opportunities for skill development, delegate responsibilities, and recognise achievements. Through empowerment they tap into the collective expertise and creativity of their teams.
Teams regularly evaluate and refine procurement processes to speed things up, reduce bottlenecks and eliminate inefficiencies.
They implement feedback mechanisms, like post-procurement evaluations, to identify areas for improvement.
They also encourage cross-functional collaboration to gather diverse views and drive innovation.