Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Jim Heininger, founder of Dixon James Communications.
An increasing number of procurement leaders are recognizing the value of using strategic, persuasive communications behind new spend management programs to ensure their success. Be it a new technology platform you are introducing, stricter purchasing guidelines, or more involvement from the procurement department, all initiatives require your company employees to accept change in their interaction with the purchasing process. Employees must fully understand the need for this change, comprehend their important role in the process and be motivated to support your new approach.
Here are five important communications factors we have found successful to build support behind a new procurement initiative:
1) Consider branding the initiative. Use the opportunity to create an internal branded program to address the cultural and structural obstacles that need to be overcome for success. For example, if moving from a decentralized structure to a more centralized procurement approach, the branding needs to convey the value and simplicity of everyone working together under one common system. Make the name or brand of your initiative aspirational to get people excited.Keep it short and simple, and if possible, articulate the goal and aim of the project.
2) Create “change agents.” Educate your core team to be change agents within the company and make it part of their job description. Train them to understand how people change their behaviors and accept new approaches. Give them the right information to share and equip them with the skills to deliver those messages in a compelling and consistent way.
3) Use multiple communication channels and techniques to gain understanding. The essence of communications is repetition so your key messages need to be tested, proven, and consistently shared over and over again. Express leadership report of the initiative, build stakeholder relationships, and share success testimonials to build your story. Deliver all your messages with enthusiasm and optimism for the long-term benefits of the project.
4) Be transparent. Acknowledge the challenges faced by the new initiative and that it will require hard work. Stress how the outcome will be worth the investment of everyone’s time and energy. Continually report both accomplishments and savings. But most importantly, thank people along the way for the flexibility and contributions.
5) Prepare to answer the challenge “what’s in it for me?” and “why should I care?” when developing your communications. To be successful, you must create followers. Before all the compelling facts and hard evidence can convince employees to believe in your new procurement approach they must accept the change emotionally. That requires honest dialogue.
Jim Heininger, the founder of Dixon James Communications, brings 30 years of experience to building and protecting brands. His firm’s award-winning work in procurement communications has included the McDonald’s Corporation SpendSmart program.