At the CIPS Middle East Conference, a panel of procurement leaders spoke on the importance of collaboration between departments.
Here are some of their top tips on breaking out of silos and achieving business goals together.
1. Disagreement can be a positive. That’s the view of Ambrath Vijayanarayanan, chief officer, procurement at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority. “Disagreement is good if it’s healthy,” he said. “Having disagreements can be a good thing, as that challenge can bring out the best in you.” If one person disagrees with you during a group meeting, take that person aside to discuss the issue separately, rather than wasting other people’s time, he advised. “Get the other people to align with you,” he added.
2. Listen carefully. “The more I involve the business in my selections and analysis, the better rate of success I’ll have,” said Abdullatif Albastaki, SVP group procurement at banking group Emirates NBD. “We are not subject matter experts in all areas, so we have to learn from [our stakeholders]. You have to listen and you have to understand.”
Mina Hakim, general manager group procurement at Al Futtaim Group, advocated collaboration from the very start, with procurement preferably fielding category specialists who speak the right language, such as marketing procurement professionals from an agency background. He added that procurement needs to meet regularly with stakeholders, not just when they are working on a specific project together. “If we do not meet the business on a regular basis, we will not be able to align our strategy with theirs,” he said.
3. Actions speak louder than words. “Lead by example,” advised Albastaki. “I ask my stakeholders to try the [procurement] service to see the savings and the value-add.” He said while there are always sceptics, experiencing value first hand will help overcome this: “It’s not just words; it’s action – the quality of service you provide. Eventually they will come to you, rather than you chasing them.”
4. Partner, but know when to lead. Procurement needs to act as a bridge and a partner between suppliers and stakeholders, said Vijayanarayanan, and this is to support the supply base as much as the organisation. “Our foundation is the suppliers because we make the supply base for the company,” he said. “It’s not about control, it’s a partnership, but if you leave it all to the stakeholders, you will get problems.”
He added: “[In the past], I have spent a lot of time on damage control caused by the end user. The poor supplier can’t complain to them, so they will come to [procurement]. You have to make them happy day to day. The more you are a partner with suppliers, the more they will bring innovation to you. If procurement professionals handle the suppliers, it is better for the company and the suppliers.”