Source One's latest whitepaper series offers reflections from a number of Supply Management thought leaders. Providing their unique perspectives, these experts discuss the evolving, controversial, and ever-popular topic of Procurement Transformation. This week, we're taking a closer look at that third installment in the series. Titled, "People, Processes, Technologies," it examines the interdependence of Procurement's various components.

In her contribution, Buyer's Meeting Point's Kelly Barner looks at the friction that tends to accompany Procurement's processes. "When initiating a Transformation," she writes, "Procurement needs to focus on the current problems at-hand. Nearly every organization can count internal friction among these problems."

Transformations that fail to assess and address this friction cannot possibly succeed in the long-term. She takes care, however, to remind readers that some conflicts can actually benefit the department and the organization as a whole. She writes, " Not all friction is non-productive."

The process of transformation, she suggests, is largely one of diagnosis. Barner recommends Procurement professionals assess their organization the way a Doctor does the body. Tracing instances of friction back to their source can help the department eliminate inefficiencies and encourage better communication across the enterprise. In time, they can identify the instances of friction that might actually help generate strategic value.

By their very nature, Procurement departments create some level of friction. Though the function's role continues to evolve, compliance and governance are still essential pieces of its mandate. Within many organizations, this history of enforcing compliance has earned Procurement a less-than-stellar reputation. After all, Business units that have grown accustomed to autonomy tend to bristle against any outsider's influence.

Barner acknowledges to her readers that a certain degree of friction is inevitable. It should not, however, inspire Procurement to abandon its mission . "So long as each step in the process brings us closer to our stated objectives," she writes "friction is a sign we are doing our job." Success in Procurement Transformation comes down to how well Procurement identifies and addresses the truly problematic conflicts within the business.

For example, friction resulting from misalignment and miscommunication should be addressed as quickly as possible. She writes, "If there's any doubt that Procurement's priorities are aligned with those of the enterprise, something is wrong." Inspiring company-wide change means getting everyone on the same page with regard to objectives, metrics, and processes. That means all internal stakeholders should fully comprehend Procurement's efforts and understand how the department will support other business units. "Whatever the problem, be it true misalignment or a simple misunderstanding," she adds, "Procurement must identify the source and resolve it as quickly as possible."

Transformative initiatives are bound to ruffle feathers, produce new conflicts, and even exacerbate existing internal friction. Success depends on Procurement's ability to address these issues before they mature into true roadblocks. Barner concludes, "To truly transform Procurement, we need to take a closer look at friction . . . we need to focus our attention on solving the real problems, addressing non-productive friction at its source, and communicating Procurement's strategic value."

Want more insights from this Supply Management leader? Read "People, Processes, and Technologies" today.

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