Depending on when you grew up (I’ll willingly date myself here), you may have played Mad Libs, the paper-based game that asked each player to fill in a series of nouns, verbs and adjectives to complete a story. The result was usually nonsensical and inexplicably hilarious, but this approach also has a place in today’s corporate world.
Procurement teams facing the constant challenge of measuring and enforcing contract compliance may shudder at the thought that December 15th was National Herding Cats Day. We put a contract in place, and they buy from someone else. We establish a process, and they do whatever they like. It can be infuriating. But, if we approach our internal “cats” with the right attitude, they also present us with unique opportunities to improve procurement’s performance, impact, and influence.
Here is some advice for those days when you find yourself herding cats:
The United Nations has declared December 9, 2016 “International Anti-Corruption Day” – an effort aimed at raising global awareness of the social and economic impact of corruption, particularly in the developing world. As they explain on their website, “Every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion is stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of global GDP.”
Today, executives in all functions and lines of business are driven to create shareholder value. Nothing can destroy the perceived value of an investment faster than negative press, which can do irreparable damage to a brand. In some cases, the cause of the criticism may not even be due to a company’s own actions, but rather those of their suppliers (or suppliers’ suppliers).
Procurement needs to be familiar with their company’s spend and purchasing habits on a very detailed level. This requires a combination of spend analysis, contract reviews and stakeholder interviews. What they must remember, however, is that procurement does not just need to increase visibility for the sake of their own understanding, but rather to increase the understanding of all decision makers in the organization.