Eight ways to help marketing and procurement work better together

23 May 2014 | Guy Norwell

Guy Norwell, business development director UK & EMEA at RedWorksThe balance of power within organisations is changing and the role of procurement has never been better appreciated.

This change is driving the need for the procurement department to deliver greater value with the teams around it. Interactions with the marketing department are particularly crucial, so here are eight ways in which you can streamline your relationships to deliver instant benefits:

Working together earlier. It used to be that procurement would be brought into negotiate contracts at the end of the decision-making process. Nowadays they are integral to the process. This places a greater importance on working closely with the marketing director earlier in the process.

Agree a joint approach. Take the time to discuss an approach and make sure that it is committed in writing to a project plan. Communication is essential throughout but taking the time to document the key stages will ensure that any crossed wires are flagged early and ironed out.

Understand each other's perspectives. Procurement should try to have an honest upfront discussion with marketing in order to properly understand each other's needs and what both sides are trying to get out of the process. Taking the time to listen to the objectives, fears and priorities of both sides will prove invaluable and remove distrust and fear.

Learn to speak the same language. Recognise that procurement or marketing departments have different ‘languages’ and cultures so consider employing a third party facilitator to mediate the process. The expertise of a third party can ascertain each party’s objectives and fears and be invaluable in not only facilitating effective communications but also adding real value and insight to the given process.

Appoint reciprocals. Internal stakeholder mirroring between the marketing and procurement departments can be essential to streamlining any joint activities. This can ensure that all parties are clear about what is required of them while bringing a feeling of shared ownership and balance to the task.

Try to identify dead ends. Although not always possible, try to identify ‘what if’ strategies to see where the hurdles may be in the project, whether internal or external. This can ensure road blocks are smoothed over before they are reached.

Identify who has true budget control. With the best intentions in the world, if there is good process but no power, any endeavour will ultimately fail. For example, a centralised procurement and marketing team may run a successful and smooth procurement process but if marketing budgets are held at a local level, then any central judgment will be nigh on impossible to enforce. 

Ensure top down communication. With a clear line of communication from senior management the project will be given its due priority by all the involved parties.

☛ Guy Norwell, business development director, UK & EMEA, RedWorks

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