What does stakeholder engagement mean to you?
No - please don't rush to read on and find out what I have to say - please do take some time to think about what it means for you and in your work. Who would you define as your stakeholders? What contribution do they have on the work that you do? and on its success? What contact do you have with them currently? and what is the format and style of that contact?
Stakeholders can include customers and suppliers but for the purposes of this blog I want to concentrate on internal stakeholders. Internal stakeholders - that for purchasing might include operations, manufacturing, quality, engineering, design, new product development, finance, marketing, sales, accounts payable, facilities, legal etc. This list will also include the senior leadership team and other senior managers.
As a result the answer to "what contribution do they have on your success?" is "HUGE" - you can't do it without them. Well that's a lie - you can go off and tender and put in place a contract without them. True success for the business, however, is in unlocking the value and that is only achieved when they use the contract - and they won't do that if you've told them what to do without asking for their:
- Potential pitfalls
- Problems to solve
- "If we tell them what purchasing is all about they'll then do it themselves" - in reality if we take time to tell them the full breadth of that purchasing involves and the skills needed they'll realise they can't and don't want to do it and would welcome our input.
- "They just won't listen to us" - so change how you communicate with them - it's up to you to communicate in a way that facilitates others listening.
- "We don't have time" - how much time does it take to sort out the problems arising from putting the wrong contract in place?
- "They don't want to save money" - having common goals and language is imperative and purchasing goals need to be understood and supported by the whole business. You can't agree them in isolation.
- "If we involve them they'll just tell us we have to use their favourite supplier" - and will continue to do so irrespective of what you do unless you both go on a journey to discover what supplier is right for the business.
Isn't that what we want - finding common ground so that our choices are supported by those who have to implement them?
What will do today to improve your stakeholder engagement?
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for effective stakeholder engagement in purchasing