Sigi Osagie – An Excerpt from his Excellent Book, Procurement Mojo

We reviewed Sigi Osagie’s book here - Procurement Mojo - Strengthening the Function and Raising its Profile.” It’s fair to say we liked it rather a lot, for its combination of a clear strategic view of what procurement and supply chain management is and should be all about, with practical advice and tools for driving change and improvement in the function as a leader.

Osagie is excellent on a number of absolutely vital issues, including management of stakeholders, particularly in the context of change. So here is an (edited) excerpt from the book in which he talks about this issue. Over to you, Sigi ...

Influencing stakeholders and creating alignment

Although using the ‘big stick’ approach with those that resist the Procurement agenda is sometimes necessary, it must always be a last resort; because stakeholder alignment based on coercion is rarely successful in the long term. Even where you make stakeholders toe the line, perhaps by leveraging executive support or a formal procurement mandate, it is still worthwhile making efforts to massage bruised egos and build positive relationships. This is part of having a well rounded perspective of stakeholders, a perspective that should allow clarity of thinking in distinguishing between the often differing needs of different stakeholder groups.

As part of my efforts to achieve this in one Procurement function I led, I continuously encouraged my purchasing managers to go out and spend 20% of their time with internal customers each week. At first, their reactions were unenthusiastic; they cited the plethora of tasks they had to undertake daily, seeing regular face to face customer interactions as “extra work”. But I knew the value and insisted on it.

My staff soon got to appreciate that these interactions were not only about pressing the flesh, they became semi-formal forums for valuable discussions – finding out what the client departments were up to and updating them on pertinent Procurement activities and functional capabilities. I also did the same thing with my opposite numbers. It was a fantastic way of bridging the divide between our Procurement function and our key stakeholders.

Spending time with internal customers may not change the relationship dynamics instantly because attitudes don't change overnight. But if you give it a try and remain persistent, you will undoubtedly find immense value for your personal brand and your Procurement mojo.

Treating stakeholders expectations and concerns with priority is crucial. It shows them that procurement values their opinions and desires. Additionally, it is a key medium for aligning Procurement’s agenda to the issues of importance to stakeholders, thus making procurement more meaningful in their world.

Ultimately, effective stakeholder management is about building relationships that boost Procurement’s position and effectiveness. And there are always two sides to the coin - as well as understanding stakeholders, purchasing people must also embed Procurement’s value proposition in stakeholders' consciousness and operations.

And you can buy the book here for just £14.99! It’s a bargain.

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