Supply and procurement professionals have many opportunities to improve the purchasing process by proactively reaching out to internal customers and operating strategically to move the needle on company objectives — as pointed out recently by IMT Procurement Journal contributor Marilyn Gettinger, C.P.M., and principal of New Directions Consulting Group.
By working collaboratively with internal customers, procurement managers derive benefits when it comes to configuring operations with an eye toward improving productivity and revenue.
The recent experience of an operating unit within a major corporation sets an example. The unit develops proprietary information in a major business area, which it sells on a subscription basis. The CIO of the unit huddled with field salespeople and the in-house specialists who develop that proprietary information, directing them to make contact with clients and learn about issues that affect their businesses, especially in information technology (IT).
This led to the creation of an informal network of CIOs from customer companies, which meets periodically to discuss operational challenges and exchange ideas about ways to leverage technologies to improve the flow of information and, when necessary, promote collaborative problem-solving.
By all accounts, this “search and learn” approach has been a success for the operating unit. The CIO has a better understanding of customer needs, and this gives him greater insight when it comes to proposing and developing delivery platforms for the proprietary information that his unit produces.
In procurement, this approach lets managers obtain a clear idea of how their operations might be adjusted to best meet customers’ needs as well as those of their companies. An immediate connection may not be as apparent as the one that exists between the operating unit’s CIO and his peers at client companies — but learning about customer concerns and harmonizing these needs with procurement operations could provide valuable insight and enhance operations.
The approach is worth considering, especially since it represents the type of creative thinking and innovative actions that procurement departments will need in order to meet or exceed efficiency goals and revenue targets.