Treat stakeholders to lunch to drive engagement

19 April 2013

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19 April 2013 | Adam Leach

Procurement professionals should meet with senior stakeholders over informal lunches to drive engagement and buy-in.

Speaking at the ProcureCon Indirect conference in London yesterday, Jim Hemmington, head of procurement at the BBC, said meeting over lunch to discuss the development of a strategic procurement plan helped him get buy-in from relevant executives.

Further, he branded the group the ‘STAR (strategic relationship) Board’, to generate interest. “To get executives in the BBC to come to a new board you give it a sexy name and have the meetings over lunch," he joked. "So very quickly, STAR board took shape."

This board was tasked with managing the corporation's outsourced portfolio as one and created a continuous improvement plan.

Presenting on the development of the BBC's outsourced procurement strategy, he said they changed their expectations of value - that it doesn't just come through competition but transparency and discussions around risk.

Under this more collaborative approach to working with providers, the broadcaster worked to deliver savings through continuous improvement. Examples included working to standardise technology with its suppliers, and working with its FM provider to reduce energy usage in building.

He and other speakers said building strong relationships with internal stakeholders and suppliers is vital but takes time and trust.

Graham Copeland, head of sales at Xchanging Procurement Services, also highlighted the value of taking a more informal approach when meeting with stakeholders. Copeland, who previously worked in procurement, suggested a ‘hard sell’ approach is less effective than softer tactics when trying to convince marketing professionals of procurement’s value.

Demonstrating the concept, he pretended to act as a head of procurement trying to engage with a delegate playing the role of a marketing executive. Copeland said: “Hi, I've been speaking to the marketing director from one of our big suppliers, they’ve got some great ideas about the digital content space. I think you should come to lunch with us to talk about it.”

The need for procurement to listen carefully to the needs and objectives of stakeholders to drive and maintain engagement was highlighted by numerous speakers and delegates during the event.

In a recent SM100 poll, 45 per cent of buyers identified improving stakeholder engagement as their number one priority in 2013.

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