Professionals within Procurement recognize that their business unit has the potential to drive the business forward with a game-changing impact. Sometimes, however, their peers in other areas feel differently.
IT, Finance, Marketing, and executive leadership aren’t always likely to take Procurement at its word. Reminding them that Procurement can (and does) make an impact wont’ inspire them to collaborate with the business unit or place their confidence in it. That’s why Procurement needs to make a more compelling argument and support it with accurate, persuasive data.
Dashboards tell a story, but data reports delivered directly to stakeholders can do much more. Presented effectively, they could inspire stakeholders to look at Procurement through a new lens and join the function in writing the story’s next chapter.
Want to make an impact and foster a new sense of collaboration? Check out these best (and worst) practices for reporting on Procurement’s efforts.
Do:Be Prepared to Support Your Findings
Any good presentation will lead to a spirited discussion. Without stoking a conflict, Procurement should come ready to address push-back from stakeholders. After all, Procurement probably wouldn’t have to deliver a presentation if everyone was already a believer. Addressing concerns and questions with honest answers will build the trust and mutual investment Procurement needs to meet its strategic objectives.
Procurement professionals love to talk about building contingency plans and considering every possible risk factor. This isn’t just something to do before embarking on a sourcing initiative. The function should take the same precautions before reporting on its performance.
Don’t: Overdo It
There’s a big difference between eye-catching and eyesore. With all the tools out there, it can become tempting to fill a presentation with all manner of colors and effects. Resist this urge. Presentations like these might be fun to design, but they’re almost always a nightmare to sit though. Instead of retaining details on Procurement’s success, your audience will find themselves averting their gaze or looking at the clock.
Take the same approach to your data. Too many numbers can be just as bad as too many bells and whistles. IF you’re doubtful of the impact a chart or graph will make, leave it out. Unsure? Conduct a test presentation with a few colleagues to make sure your report has the desired effect.
Do: Speak Your Audience’s Language
It’s no secret that Procurement has gotten a bad rap over the years. The function has long had to contend with a reputation for taking a ‘my way or the highway’ approach and pursuing cost savings at all costs. These misconceptions often come down to misaligned priorities. While Procurement’s ears might perk up at the word ‘savings,’ someone from a unit like Marketing is unlikely to feel so enthused.
Before compiling a report, Procurement should make an effort to learn which metrics are most likely to engage and inspire its audience. It’s never enough to just point to data. Procurement needs to deliver its findings or results in a way that makes other stakeholders eager to join them as partners. Ironically, this will likely mean tossing out some of the metrics Procurement likes most.
Don’t: Expect too Much
In a perfect world, Procurement’s data would speak for itself. Professionals would rely on simple charts and enjoy the privilege of instant recognition from its audience. We don’t live in that world. Sometimes, more complex representations are unavoidable and audiences won’t quickly connect the dots.
Procurement can’t afford to leave stakeholders to draw conclusions on their own. Without insulting anyone’s intelligence, come prepared to some explaining (maybe more than you’d like to). Always try to reach the perfect balance between showing and telling.
Author: Tom Rogers
Job Title: CEO
Organization: Vendor Centric
Tom is a trusted advisor on procurement and third-party management to organizations across the United States. Having worked with over 120 organizations over his 30-year career, he has a unique ability to bring both creativity and discipline to finding solutions for even the most complex challenges his clients face.