Like most Procurement interns, I arrived at Source One feeling more than a little uncertain.  It doesn't take a lot to make me feel anxious.  Accepting a position in a totally unfamiliar industry certainly did the trick.

Luckily for me, Source One made it easy to develop my knowledge of Procurement and Strategic Sourcing.  They literally wrote the book on the subject.  It's hard to believe there are many better teachers out there. With that expert guidance, I set about studying the industry and familiarizing myself with Source One's unique approach to producing cost savings.

One of my initial misgivings was that my tasks might feel disconnected from Source One's real business.  I'm allergic to data, but I didn't want to feel too removed from the day-to-day efforts of Source One's Procurement analysts and consultants. Worrying to myself, I thought back on my time working in Operations for an elementary school.  Our team often had trouble communicating with the teaching staff.  At times, we effectively functioned as though we worked in two different buildings. I did not want to relive that experience under any circumstances.

I was delighted to learn that Source One's workplace wasn't so siloed. Immediately, my role in supporting both the Marketing unit and our consultants became clear.  I was soon working closely with co-workers across the organization to develop marketing strategies, produce communications, and ultimately serve our clients.

I've learned a lot over the last four months, but I'm still especially motivated by a lesson I learned in my first week.  Studying industry blogs and publications, it occurred to me that every step in a Procurement initiative depends on effective communication.

Let's take a look at a few examples:

1.  Attracting Talent
Tomorrow's Procurement leaders are out there.  Companies can't bring them onboard, however, without communicating their own value.  Have you browsed a job board recently? Surely, you'd agree that most listings are pretty uninspired.  Attracting emerging talent will mean changing the way Procurement presents itself.  It'll fall on Marketing and Communications teams to develop more dynamic strategies for engaging applicants.

2. Team Building
You'll never execute a successful initiative without the right team of motivated, dedicated Procurement professionals.  Managers can no longer afford to communicate goals and expectations during annual performance reviews. To effectively develop a team, Procurement leaders need to make feedback and career pathing part of an ongoing conversation. A transparent, constructive, and fair dialogue will help retain top talent and optimize Procurement's performance.

3. RFx Administration
Developing an effective RFx document basically comes to down to developing a communications strategy.  If you're asking too many questions, too few questions, or the wrong kind of questions you won't get the answers you need.  The process can also require more direct communication with prospective suppliers.  It's sometimes not enough to assume an organization understands your expectations.  Misunderstandings might lead you to miss out on potential business.  Taking time to reach out to suppliers directly and discuss a document could make all the difference.

4. Supplier Relationship Management
A relationship with a vendor isn't so different from any other relationship.  It can easily fall apart as a result of inconsistent or ineffective communication.  Maintaining close contact with incumbent suppliers is the only way to ensure both parties are satisfied.  Regular check-ins are your opportunity to assess performance, enforce compliance, and discuss potential strategies for future initiatives.  Without them, you could find yourself unwittingly locked into inefficient agreements.

Those are just some of the ways I've seen effective communication play a role in Procurement.  As the industry, its professionals, and its technologies continue to evolve, communication will only grow more essential.  Spread the word!

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Bennett Glace

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