The product's death was a strange one. Google Reader was widely used and much beloved (in my prior life in journalism, Google Reader was the way I stayed sane trying to organize hundreds of potential news sources) up until the point it was unceremoniously taken out back and put down by big G execs. The official reason given was that there was a decline in usage. A Buzzfeed story, however, puts a darker and much more relate-able spin on it: Google execs didn't like it, so they killed it.
Old Yeller went out with more dignity.
According to the BuzzFeed article, Google Reader sat in purgatory for quite some time. Because the executive team didn't like it and didn't find it relevant to the company's future goals, once the existing project manager moved on to other work, the Reader team had no management and Google didn't concern itself with finding a new one. Management's indifference certainly didn't inspire anyone to step up and take the reins -- there was nothing to gain. Reader was wandering the Google desert, with no manna to sustain it. The development team let the product become stale and had no guidance or motivation to approve it due to senior leadership's disdain for it.
In short, the project had no backing, stalled, and died. Sound familiar?
One of the key drivers for future procurement success is getting stakeholders on board and getting procurement's goals and projects centric to those goals of the organization. Google Reader wasn't centric to Google's goals, had no support, and got killed. Getting stakeholder support -- and, to a greater extent, leadership's support -- is such a hot-button topic, many seem to gloss over how difficult it is to get.
Procurement departments seemingly have to prove their worth before every project and win over category stakeholders to get access to the data and personnel needed to conduct any initiative. Because so many category stakeholders are very reluctant to let someone else "tell them what to do or how to do it", resistance is all but expected. While stubbornness is expected, and often unavoidable, there are strategies that procurement departments can take to ease this internal tension, namely marketing their department, marketing their successes, and building up support for their group internally.
The most common way for procurement departments to market themselves internally is through reporting. We've talked about this. This step is so critical to a procurement department's success, however, that it really shouldn't be considered optional or a marketing measure by any department. It should be considered mandatory. Still, there's a lot that can fall under the "reporting" label, and there are some measures that are more effective and time consuming than others. For example, a mass-mailed spreadsheet with a bunch of figures in it is technically a reporting technique, just not a very good one.
In next week's newsletter (sign up if you aren't already receiving it), we will be discussing marketing strategies at length, and Source One offers a good bit of help in internal marketing should your group require it. Stay tuned.
Image courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures' Gladiator