Plan to get ahead

6 August 2013
I am sure all of you have, or feed 
into, a plan, whether it relates to a holiday, career path, or just life in general. They help us understand what we need to do to achieve our goals, who we need help from and how much time we have to make them happen. Without plans it is probable that we would fail to achieve our goals. Think about it from a procurement point of view; our plan weaves together all of the various functions of the business enabling them to deliver their plans, and in turn supporting the business to deliver its overall strategy. For this reason it should be the heartbeat of our function, informing us of our workload, flagging any capacity constraints and driving our value targets. It should be shared with the business enabling them to understand what we will be delivering for them and when, enabling them to plan the support they need to provide us with. It should also be a source of great information so that we can manage our performance; track the savings we achieve, the value we offer and the speed at which we expedite our activities. So, given the importance of having a robust plan, why is it that so often they fail? There are many reasons, but, in the main, it is due to the information held within the plan being out of date. To prevent this from happening, the tool must be simple and user-friendly with clear ownership. It is imperative that named individuals are accountable for ensuring that it is always live, complete with accurate data. Reporting and management reviews of the plan also need to occur regularly, ensuring that proactive steps are taken to achieve the team’s goals and success is celebrated. As we move through 
the year, a robust plan is the difference between success and failure. So if you haven’t already, 
take a step back and review how effective 
your plan is today as it will make the 
difference tomorrow. Relationship advice This month my husband and I are celebrating three years of marriage and nine years together. It has really made me appreciate why our relationship works so well; we respect each other, we both benefit from the relationship, we have invested time into it and we have the same goals. This is very similar to effective supplier relationships. All too often you hear supplier relationship management (SRM) thrown around like a buzzword, as the latest fad but without any depth or real thought. It seems some organisations confuse relationship management with contract management, simply performance-managing suppliers based on what is explicit in a particular contract rather than investing time in developing a real relationship and reaping the rewards of shared goals and thinking. I am not going to argue the case for or against, nor am I going to provide a framework for SRM which you will find in any book on the subject matter. I just wanted to sow a few seeds in terms of some high-level principles for making SRM a success: • The whole business needs to want to do it – not just procurement • The suppliers must want it and be ready for it • It should never be an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all approach • It should be based on mutual respect, transparency, understanding and shared goals • It needs time and investment from both parties – 
it won’t happen overnight. ☛ Nicola Bromby is head of commercial management, Heathrow Airport
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