Meeting stakeholders and suppliers while staying on top of your day job – further advice

This month’s issue of Supply Management featured a question from a reader who wanted advice on how to get out of the office to meet with supplier and stakeholders while keeping on top of the regular work.

Here’s some more expert guidance on the topic:

Chris Graves, head of procurement, YPO

Chris Graves, head of procurement, YPOAs a buyer, a fundamental part of the role needs to be about meeting with customers and suppliers to ensure the goods and services you buy are fit for purpose, that you are up to speed with any changes in the market and can take advantage of any innovation.

At the same time, I recognise time management challenges may exist when trying to keep on top of admin, emails and other day-to-day tasks.

My first tip would be to prioritise. By putting the important things in your diary first, everything else should fit around them. You might also want to allocate certain times in your day or week to catch up on the more routine activities.

At the same time as prioritising, think about whether you need to do certain tasks. Would someone else be in a better position to take on that responsibility or does the task even need to be completed at all?

Finally, think about how technology can be used to make you more efficient. It might be that having access to your systems whilst travelling to and from customer or supplier meetings will help you to keep on top of the ‘day job’.

Nik Shenton, procurement director, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting

Nik Shenton, procurement director, EMEA, Turner BroadcastingWhere and how you hold supplier meetings depends partly on what goods and services your business requires. If provenance is important or for risk assessment, quality, workflow optimisation, etc. site visits will be beneficial to both you and your suppliers (often enhanced if you’re accompanied by the relevant stakeholders).

But if you’re purchasing generic goods such as stationery, site visits may be less essential. Trade expos can be a useful way to effectively meet multiple suppliers (depending on the commodity), but building a good relationship with your suppliers, whether in the office or not, is always time well invested.

Stakeholder engagement is paramount and time spent with them irrespective of location will help ensure you fully understand their business needs. Together you may discover an alternative solution rather than simply renegotiating what you’ve always procured.

In terms of how best to structure your time, seek to identify who your critical suppliers and stakeholders are, and apportion your time investment accordingly. Embrace technology. Webex, Skype, conference calls can often reduce the need to physically travel, especially if you have international suppliers and/or stakeholders. While away, VPN access and smart phones will help you stay up-to-date with your day job.

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