Procurement’s Ability to Influence Really Comes Down to Resource Capabilities

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Jim Kiser at GEP.

The standard definition in the US Free Dictionary for influence is “a power affecting a person, thing, or course of events, especially one that operates without any direct or apparent effort.” People probably have different ideas of what influence is and how this “power” is used to affect people and organizations in managing daily operations, progress and change. As the expectations grow for procurement to either become a more “strategic” area in management’s eyes or continue to develop their level of influence within their organization, it really comes down to understanding procurement’s current business capabilities, the gaps in those capabilities and what needs to be done to help close those identified gaps. Industry experts are great at explaining the “what” and “who” that need to be influenced, but not many provide examples/ideas related to recognizing the “how” for procurement.

If the ability to influence someone is based on insight/knowledge from experience and that knowledge has the power to influence others in a productive or beneficial manner, then it is smart to identify the level of capabilities your procurement team has (experience, knowledge, application) within specific key areas critical to the organization.

Here are some initial thoughts or steps to take toward helping begin the development your procurement group’s business influence:

  • Identify what business strengths are important for your overall organization. Are they technical knowledge, communication/business acumen or presence, collaboration, negotiation skills, finance knowledge, project management, external market expertise, price/cost management, contract management, etc.?
  • Do these skills align to our core goals and future as a company? If so, then you can zero in on the skills consider critical for most resources and certainly for procurement.
  • Choose an outside firm that has the experience to develop assessments based on your decide business skills and create a tailored assessment with key measurements for those areas.
  • Ensure the assessment measures objectively with real world question sets that are linked to levels of performance that provide current knowledge insight. It should give you ratings for low knowledge and a level for higher knowledge and experience. A gap assessment.
  • Reports should help you identify each procurement person’s strengths and weaknesses.

Based on the department’s overall score, as well as individual scores from an assessment, you can begin to develop plans for each person’s development needs. It is also a chance to recognize who has certain strengths in key areas and those who need more development needs to enhance their future knowledge.

It is up to management to decide how best to create learning opportunities for key resources whether it is through internal project exposure, mentoring, classes and putting them in new situations with different departments to grow and learn from other functional experts.

Management today typically expects procurement to influence groups both internal and external, then it’s first important to understand the “how” in order to capitalize on their strengths as well as develop needed abilities to really influence the people around them and outside the organization.

For more interesting thinking on procurement, visit the GEP Knowledge Bank.

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First Voice

  1. Barbara Ardell:

    The “how” is critical! Leadership is intentional influence, and organization change is the sum of individual behavior changes. For individuals to change, the need to be motivated (is it worth it?) and they need the ability (can I do it?). We need to address both.

    There is a fallacy that we convince people to change through logic (verbal persuasion). This is akin to speaking louder when a person with a different language doesn’t understand us. People are influenced much more by connecting to their values and beliefs. We connect by creating personal experiences and vicarious experiences so they can internalize the value of the desired change. We also need to bring multiple sources of influence to bear on our change challenge. These include personal, social and structural forces. We often underwhelm and overwhelming challenge.

    To learn more about an approach that was named 2009 Change Management Approach of the Year, click here:

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