Don’t let it fall apart

7 August 2012
When reading my last column on the importance of policy and procedure, I realised that I forgot to mention ‘consequence’. We live in a worldgoverned by rules and regulations. If you commit a crime you know to expect the consequences. So why are people allowed to break rules in many businesses without any personal impact? How many companies have you worked for with what would appear robust policies and procedures, but a maverick culture? This could be related to the fact that if an individual is non-compliant to a policy – by choice or by accident – they either receive no support so that they do not understand the impact to the business and to themselves of non-compliance or - having broken the policy many times – receive no personal consequence. The latter mindset is akin to that of a child. When parents give in to a request after first saying “no”, children know they can push the boundaries. It is the same in business. If there are no consequences why would people comply? Here are a few points for when you next review your policies: • Understand the potential business risk of non-compliance. Based on this, think about the appropriate consequence for non-compliance. • Discuss your thoughts with HR and the executive board, then get buy-in from both. Once agreed, communicate your policy and make sure it is understood. • Audit compliance and ensure that those breaking the policy receive the appropriate action. • Communication is key. Make sure that your message is understood: compliance will not happen as a result of just having documents in place. The role of the procurement professional I’m sure you will all agree that the role of a procurement professional is a difficult one. We are responsible for driving value while ensuring that the business is legally and ethically compliant. For this reason, wecan sometimes be perceived as the ‘procurement police’. People like to think that we are on a mission to make buying as difficult as possible and are blocking people from doing what they ‘need’ to do to get their job done. I am guessing that a few of you will be nodding your head in recognition of this statement. But my question to you is: what are you doing to actually communicate the role of procurement at your organisation? How many of you are actively engaging with the business so that your colleagues can understand that you are not a blocker but rather a facilitator? We can’t assume that people know who we are and what we do. Likewise, we cannot assume that we are more important than any other function within the business. It is imperative that we understand the pressures facing our colleagues in other business functions. By doing this we will be able to find a common ground and share in the benefits of working together.
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