People are crucial to transformation success

11 October 2010

12 October 2010 | Rebecca Ellinor

The key ingredient to a successful transformation project – whether in procurement or the business more widely – is people.

That was the conclusion reached by all four senior purchasers in a panel discussion at the CIPS Conference 2010 in London last month. They said the abilities of your staff, and relationships with stakeholders, were vital.

HSBC CPO Alison Parker told delegates: “Transformation is not a spectator sport – if you’ve got the people skills right, they will start driving these transformations for you.”

“Focus on the team,” said Matt Oxley, group director, procurement and property, General Healthcare Group. “Think how you’re going to build their skills and capabilities. If you get the right formula, you can produce outstanding results.”

That mix includes negotiation skills, objectivity and analytical competences, and the ability to develop business cases, influence stakeholders, manage change and communicate.

Influencing people outside your own team was also important, said Guy Bruce, strategic director procurement and supply chain, Interserve. “Don’t fool yourself that there’s an over-riding business objective that everybody buys into. There are often power brokers who will make or break a transformation. Find out who they are, involve them, and have strategies to mitigate their influence.”

“We have to be ‘good terminators’,” said Paula Gildert, head of strategic sourcing at Novartis, “If there’s a stakeholder concern not addressed, it could trip you up. Passive or overt resistance will kill your transformation, so you have to be up for it, and it’s hard work.”

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