In the realm of procurement, most improvements require some sort of change from members at various levels of the organization. From upper management all the way down to line workers, any number of stakeholders will have difficulty accepting and adjusting to these changes. If any procurement initiative is going to be implemented successfully the problems that result from change must be identified and effectively managed. Below is a framework for developing teams and task forces that will be able to work together to successfully identify and overcome obstacles that result from change-related decisions.

The first step in developing a change-management team is referred to as Forming. During the forming phase the proper personnel and resource requirements must first be identified. If the initiative is going to have cross-functional ramifications, it is important that the proper stakeholders from across the organization are included in this team. During this phase it is also important to recruit executive commitment and clearly define key goals the initiative will accomplish and create motivation/rewards systems that will encourage team members to work toward developing integrated solutions.

Once the “who we are and why we’re here” is determined a team must enter the Storming phase. This is a phase that, if neglected up front, could have very detrimental effects on the team later down the road. During the storming phase, before any strategies or plans are discussed, each team member gets to voice their concerns, doubts, fears, or potential reasons for resistance. This phase can be difficult, but it is necessary in order for the team to clear the air, allow for healthy debate, and be ready to work as a together (with each others’ concerns in mind) on the same side of an issue.

After the initial Storming phase, it is important that a set of rules and norms are created for team discussions. This phase is referred to as the Norming phase. During this step agendas are set, rules for negotiation are developed, and each group member is made aware of what will be accepted as legitimate forms of disagreement. This seemingly perfunctory step is valuable because it allows group leaders to curb any dysfunctional conflict and keep discussions heading in a positive direction.

Now that the proper mix of personnel is on board, all initial conflicts have been addressed, and the guidelines for discussion have been set, the group is ready to start Performing. This phase represents the “getting down to brass tacks” for which the group was originally assembled. Many teams, particularly ones under the pressure of a deadline, rush into the performing phase without effectively forming, storming, and norming. When this happens, hidden agendas, a lack of resources, and personal conflict can negatively affect the cohesiveness of the team and their ability to manage change.

Although these four steps may seem like common, sense they can act as a checklist to ensure that a team consists of the right people, with the right goals, having the right conversations that will guarantee a change initiative’s success.
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