Spend Matters welcomes this guest post by Kay Ree Lee, of The Hackett Group.
- “Procurement needs to be more proactive versus the business initiating projects.”
- “Procurement needs to be an integral part of the team.”
- “Consult the business before implementing any process improvement.”
- “Procurement needs to issue the POs in a timely manner. Waiting 3 days on a PO is unacceptable.”
These are some comments we’ve recently heard when conducting a stakeholder survey (Voice of the Customer) as part of a broader procurement benchmark for different clients. We often hear that procurement is focused on meeting and exceeding customer requirements, but benchmarks from Hackett’s procurement database shows otherwise. The chart below shares that 30% of non-world-class (Non-WC) organizations rated procurement as an administrator while only 15% of Non-WC organizations rated procurement as a valued business partner. So, if this is the stakeholder’s perception of the procurement organization, what are some things you can do quickly to change this perception?
Other than changes to the organization structure, there are 5 things that we believe procurement can quickly do to improve internal customer perception and exceed internal customer requirements:
- All procurement resources should be customer focused and empowered
- Dedicate specific procurement resources to help desk activities
- Start conducting monthly training to educate internal customers
- Create a monthly/quarterly newsletter and share recent projects, success stories and upcoming projects
- Create an internal website to share procurement information: FAQs, contact information, approved suppliers, success stories, process documents, etc.
All procurement resources should be customer-focused and customer-empowered. We often hear the comment that perception is reality – unfortunately, there is some truth in this. As procurement resources are typically focused on assisting end-users with different processes in procurement, all procurement individuals (whether they are internal client-facing or not) should be customer-focused, which means being helpful in problem solving and troubleshooting, being proactive, being a good listener and feeling empowered to fix processes that are broken. The term “fit-for-purpose” or “fit-for-risk” comes to mind when addressing broken processes. As procurement works to address issues identified by its internal customers, it should determine whether the process is adequate or overkill for what the internal customer is trying to accomplish based on the value and appropriate risk appetite of the organization.
Dedicate specific procurement resources to help desk activities. Procurement activities are a complex string of processes. As such, we should expect our internal customers to have plenty of questions related to the process, status of transactions, etc. Dedicating specific procurement resources to answer questions from internal customers is one of many ways procurement can help address and resolve questions in a timely fashion. However, it is important to note that the more knowledge the help desk resources have about the usage of procurement technology, status of sourcing events, process for sourcing and a broad understanding of procurement, the better they will be at being able to provide first-contact resolution.
Start conducting monthly training to educate internal customers. Conducting monthly/ongoing training to internal customers will help provide them with the knowledge and latest information to perform their jobs. Ultimately, this will also help procurement. There are various types of training that can be provided to include:
- How to create transactions
- How to create spend analysis reports
- How to identify approved suppliers
- How to use e-catalogs
- How to maneuver the ERP maze
During these sessions, it would also be helpful to document the various issues that each of the internal customers faces. By addressing these issues, procurement will be able to 1) ensure that internal customer requirements are met and 2) improve internal processes.
Create a monthly/quarterly newsletter and share recent projects, success stories and upcoming projects. Most of procurement’s work goes on behind the scenes and rarely do we share our success stories for one reason or another. However, creating a monthly/quarterly newsletter will help provide our internal customers with additional information on how the procurement organization is able to assist, help identify new projects and bring to light creative ideas from previous projects. In addition, it is also a way of demonstrating value that procurement organizations bring along with some shameless self-promotion.
Create an internal website. While the monthly newsletter is focused on sharing the latest news, an internal website is another way of allowing our internal customers to perform self-service. There are various reasons to create an internal website including:
- Sharing of information with our internal customers
- Providing them a portal to log issues
- Providing them ability to self-diagnose and resolve issues
As a member of the procurement organization, our role is to help support internal customers by listening, understanding, meeting and exceeding their expectations. Being front and center to our internal customers is important. Hopefully, these 5 activities can quickly help your procurement organization change your internal customers’ perception.