Procurement and Supply Management professionals recognize that their business unit has the potential to make a game-changing impact. How could they not? Blogs like the Strategic Sourceror have emphatically made this argument for more than a decade now. Sometimes, however, other business units feel differently. 

Finance, Marketing, IT, and executive leadership aren't likely to take Procurement at its word. Simply reminding them that Procurement can (and has) made an impact won't inspire them to collaborate with the function or place their confidence in it. Procurement needs to make a more persuasive argument, one that's supported by accurate, compelling data.

A dashboard might tell a story, but a data report delivered directly to stakeholders has the potential to do much more. Presented effectively, it could inspire stakeholders to look at Procurement differently and join them in composing the story's next chapter. Looking to make an impact and foster a new sense of collaboration? Check out some best (and worst) practices for presenting Procurement's data.

Do: Speak Your Audience's Language

It's no secret that Procurement sometimes gets a bad rap. The function has long contended with a reputation for taking a 'my way or the highway' stance and pursuing cost savings at the expense of service levels and product quality. These misconceptions often come down to misaligned priorities. While a Procurement professional's ears might perk up at the word savings, someone from Marketing's hackles might rise instead.

Before putting a together a report, Procurement needs to make an effort to learn which metrics are mostly likely to inspire its audience. It's never enough to simply point to data. Procurement needs to present its findings or results in such a way that other stakeholders are eager to join them as partners. Ironically enough, this could mean tossing out the metrics that Procurement values most.

Don't: Overdo It

There's a fine line between a presentation that's eye-catching and a presentation that's an eyesore. With all the fancy tools out there, it can get tempting to load a presentation with colors and effects. Resist the urge. A presentation like this might be fun to make, but it'll prove exhausting to sit through. Instead of retaining information on Procurement's recent successes, your audience will likely find themselves shielding their eyes or looking at the clock.

Take the same approach to the data itself. Too many numbers is often as bad as too many colors and effects. If you're doubtful of the impact a chart or graph will make, don't hesitate to leave it out. Still unsure? You can always conduct a test presentation with a few colleagues to ensure your findings have the desired effect.

Do: Be Prepared to Back Up Your Findings

Any good report or presentation will lend itself to a discussion. Without inviting conflict, Procurement should come prepared to address push-back from stakeholders and support its claims. After all, you probably wouldn't have to present this data if everyone was already on board.
Addressing questions and concerns with honest, insightful answers will help build the sense of trust and mutual investment that Procurement needs to meet its objectives.

Procurement loves to talk about how important it is to build contingency plans and consider every possible risk factor. This isn't just something to do before going to market. The function should exercise the same care and take the same precautions before delivering a report on its performance.

Don't: Expect too Much

In an ideal world, Procurement's data would effectively speak for itself. The function would rely on simple charts and graphs and enjoy instant recognition from its audience. We don't live in an ideal world. Sometimes, more complex representations are unavoidable and stakeholders won't quickly connect the dots.

You can't afford to leave your audience to draw connections or conclusions on their own. Without insulting their intelligence, be prepared to do some explaining (maybe more explaining than you'd like to). When putting together reports and delivering presentations, try to reach the perfect balance between showing and telling.

What metrics should Procurement track? Why? Learn more about effective tracking and reporting in Part 2 of Source One's latest whitepaper series. Titled Building an Effective Procurement Organization: Metrics, it's got the insights your team needs to run at maximum efficiency and generate buy-in across the organization. Download it today
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