Reach out and make it social

13 March 2014 | Remko van Hoek

Remko van Hoek, PwCLet’s be honest, hardly any procurement organisation will today hit the AstraZeneca rule of thumb of 2-2-1 for time spent; two days with internal customers in the business, two days with suppliers and no more than one day per week back in the office with the procurement team.

Many will be at 1-1-3, maybe even 1-0-4. And that is hurting – we are not actively engaging with the business enough, and while supplier relationship management is top of our priorities we do not spend that much time with suppliers.

So perhaps we are a bit too introverted as a profession. And perhaps our old toolkit uses limited access, availability and information flow control as a tendering and negotiating technique a bit too frequently. Social media is a way to break out of isolation without needing to become a big extrovert overnight.

It can sometimes feel a bit scary for us to let go of control over what gets communicated, by whom, to whom and when. So maybe that is why, when you ask buyers if they use social media many say yes – but only mean LinkedIn. Fortunately the number of procurement people on Twitter is increasing. I recommend an active approach to social media. It can be a source of fast information exchange and it is a way to keep an eye on the market by following companies and what company employees are saying.

It is also a way to reach peers and stay up to date with people and companies without needing to wait for the press release or D&B report.

So, my suggestions would be:

• Post something that you care about

• Ensure procurement is mentioned frequently to keep engagement in our field growing and prominent

• Ask for something you wish you 
knew or had

• Connect with peers, suppliers and non-suppliers to stay up to date

• As leaders, we need to endorse social media activity and provide ways to do it correctly (not share too much too soon) and leverage it to our advantage (spot the IP and run with it)

So do a session on social media policy, usage and advantages as a management team and then with the wider staff team. It’s not that different from the good old techniques of seeking best offers against your needs, just a bit more social.

Remko van Hoek is the global procurement director at PwC

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