The biggest stumbling block of any supply chain is when the departments involved aren’t on the same page with procurement and are isolated from the project. Overcoming this challenge requires both sides to start bridging the gap—easy to say, of course, but hard to promote… especially when each side waits the other to make the first move. So what can procurement professionals do to get this process moving quickly and in the right direction?

There is a connection between cross-department procurement collaboration and reaching an organization’s full potential, and employees on both sides need to recognize this. When new strengths are brought to the table and output gains another dimension, these alliances are increasingly valued and repeated.

According to a recent Buyers Meeting Point blog discussing a Sigi Osagie op-ed piece, “Rightly or wrongly, perception can sometimes be more important than reality, especially in large organizations. Trying to argue procurement’s case in a mire of organizational misconceptions is like complaining about your opponent who turned up to the gunfight with his pistol while you turned up with a knife.” In other words, the shift towards cooperation is one that comes through gradual acceptance, not stubborn debate. However, there are some steps procurement teams can take today to get the ball rolling.

Best Practices for Collaborative Sourcing

Last evening at the ISM Philadelphia January 2015 Dinner Meeting, Kathleen Jordan and David Pastore emphasized the power of employees willing to collaborate with diverse departments in an influential sourcing practice. At the dinner meeting, both speakers expanded on best practices for sourcing unique spend categories with this perspective in mind.

The audience knew all too well how missed opportunities to collaborate affect the bottom line.  One ISM member shared a story about a company facing drastic budgetary cut backs when the IT spend unexpectedly exceeded the budget with maintenance and renewal fees embedded in unmanaged contracts. How did this happen? Communication between procurement and IT wasn’t leveraged, and communication suffered as a result.

Another ISM member approached Kathleen following her presentation with a question many professionals encounter when beginning to support marketing from a sourcing group: What is the best way to begin? Kathleen noted that the more tactical areas – print and promotional items for example – are a great transition into the more unique marketing spend categories such as creative, media buying, or public relations.

In uniting core competencies, Marketing and IT are finding benefit in aligning with sourcing, and this goes for many other departments as well. Much of this acceptance begins internally, so pursuing new options available once diverse groups come together to expand their resources is a worthwhile pursuit. Following David and Kathleen’s advice, the audience members know where to start.

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