An indirect route to raise procurement's profile

posted by Avnish Patel
17 March 2017

A constant battle with internal stakeholders, to gain engagement and demonstrate the value procurement can add if engaged at the right time, is like a black hole that could drain procurement’s energy.

Marketing the procurement brand is part of the job, therefore procurement professionals should think about a strategy of how it can be done best without getting frustrated. So, is there a way in which the procurement brand can sell by itself?

Word of mouth

A lot of brands sell through word of mouth, which is one of the strongest marketing channels, as it’s a recommendation by a user based on their actual experience.

Improving cost or enhancing user experience, through procurement efforts, of a service that affects everyone in the organisation has a larger impact on the brand enhancement than a town hall presentation showing the procurement ROI numbers.

Using indirect procurement for brand enhancement

Indirect procurement, especially for corporate services such as travel, telecommunication, catering or any other type of employee assistance programmes, affects a lot of users within the corporate. In this area, the entire organisation’s workforce is one large stakeholder. This presents procurement professionals with an opportunity to make an impact that is visible to everyone in the organisation.

Compared to direct procurement, which has a small group of stakeholders and a much bigger spend, indirect procurement has a wider reach, as almost every employee in the organisation is a user. Any type of enhancement in the corporate service will be easily noticed and appreciated.

Increasing credibility by using the indirect procurement platform will create the domino effect through word of mouth, leading to brand enhancement from which direct procurement will also benefit. A job not well done can at the same time tarnish the brand by having a negative effect.

CPOs and procurement professionals should capitalise on the opportunity of using the direct access they have to the mass users in the indirect corporate space to enhance the brand. Creating a focused group that can represent service users from different part of the business and involve them in the change process works two ways. It creates the much-needed buy-in from the stakeholders that will be directly affected by the change and it spreads the word about the value that procurement is delivering.

The strategy of using indirect procurement as a catalyst to win stakeholder trust and confidence should work better in organisations that are in the early stages of the procurement transformation journey. Here, procurement projects that affect wider users should be prioritised during the transformation to build up credibility at an early stage. 

Indirect procurement does not directly influence the actual cost of the product or service of an organisation. However, it offers a wider channel for procurement to connect with the end users and make them feel and realise the value that procurement can deliver.

☛ Avnish Patel, procurement UK/Ireland and EMEA corporate services for a leading industrial gases company

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