These four words resound in your head often and ring the loudest when clicking the ‘submit’ button on an order that breaks your company’s established purchasing procedure. It's likely that you identify as a rebel; a free-thinker unrestrained by the chains of Corporate Policy. You do what you want because you are Enlightened, unlike your colleagues. The rules don’t apply to you.
Except that they do, and the executives at your firm have different descriptors for you that don’t exactly align with the forward-thinking labels you have bestowed upon yourself. To them, you’re a rogue, a maverick… and you’re costing them money.
So you’re probably here now because your name showed up on a list of “Non-Compliant Purchasers” in a memo that every C-level at your company was copied on. Presumably, you value having a job and an income, so you’ve begun to seek assistance in managing your urges to purchase whatever and however you want. But why not go one step further? Instead of falling in line and under the radar, become proactive in enforcing compliance not only in yourself, but in the other delinquents whose names were right next to yours on that report.
This is your opportunity to redeem yourself. With the help of this guide, the next list on which your name will appear will be the Top Performers list, guaranteed*.
Step 1: Identify Gaps in the Purchasing Process
In order to adequately address the problem, you have to take a step back and identify all points in the process that contribute to the compliance issues. We already know that conscious disregard for the rules in purchasing at the employee level is one problem, but for many other employees the issue may be ignorance rather than malice. Do they even know what or how they should be purchasing, and if not, why are they allowed to make these types of ad-hoc purchases? While your firm may have a general policy around purchasing, if it is not holistic nor robust then ultimately it will be difficult to enforce.
The company policy should be readily available to any employee with the ability to make business purchases and should not be difficult to obtain. It may even be in the employee handbook that you definitely read cover to cover.
Step 2: Obtain Spend Data and Supplier Contracts
This step may be trickier for a lower level employee such as yourself, but it must be done. You’ll need to obtain the supplier contracts and the spend data associated with those categories in order to draft a better process and identify the gaps in spending. If you cannot break into your manager’s computer to pull the relevant data, an alternative and legal option would be to simply ask your manager for the data while informing them of your intended use.
Step 3: Develop a Better Process
Now you have all of the data you need to begin the real work. There are a few key things to keep in mind that will net a successful outcome when developing the new purchasing process:
- Draft a list that clearly outlines the approved suppliers, items and contract pricing for the purchasers to utilize. Use large, bold font to prevent confusion and capitalize all letters to optimize readability. I suggest the use of the Impact font face as it perfectly captures all of the above elements in the click of a button.
- A resource should be assigned the role of Authorized Requisitioner by either department, category or location, depending on how your firm is structured. This individual will be responsible for the purchasing needs of their specified segment. Ideally, this person should be competent and rigid, yet also friendly and approachable, as to not deter employees from sharing needs simply out of fear.
- The resource must produce a PO based on the items, which then must be approved by… somebody. You can suggest yourself for this role because of your insatiable thirst for power, but know that it will require work to validate the items on the PO against the corresponding contract. Keep in mind that you should approve a legitimate PO unless there is appropriate cause for rejection. Rejecting a PO because your horoscope predicted somebody would lie to you that day is barbaric and will ultimately reduce company morale if it becomes a frequent event.
The process will vary slightly depending on your company, but the principles are the same. While there is quite a bit more that goes into developing, refining, presenting and implementing a robust purchasing process, I simply cannot do all of your work for you. This is a self-help guide, after all.
Best of luck!