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An unfortunate attitude

February 19, 2014

Many times I am asked by contract management and procurement practitioners how they can gain more influence. They know that they could address some of the weaknesses in current business practice and process, but the timing of their involvement and the lack of consultation and authority prevent them from doing so.

These individuals believe they deserve some form of executive mandate that would expand their powers and ensure oversight of the actions and decisions being taken elsewhere in the business. Essentially, when it comes to dealing with suppliers or customers, they question the knowledge, competence and motivation of their colleagues in other business groups or functions.

Even if this view has validity, it is scarcely likely to win friends or to encourage inclusiveness. Indeed, it is the attitude of many contracts and procurement groups that limits their influence. A value proposition that appears to be based on controls and compliance is rarely attractive to senior management because they are concerned it may impede wider business success.

Status and authority flow from value. Successful procurement and contract management groups are those which work on assisting the business to achieve its goals and can demonstrate how their contribution is adding measurable value. Rather than seek power based on weaknesses in knowledge or controls, they work to understand the causes of such issues and to remedy them. As a result, they regularly lead changes in process, contracting models, systems or knowledge transfer. They are a source of insight, not oversight.

One Comment
  1. Dave Barton permalink

    Insight versus oversight…well said, Tim. And measureable value needs to be put in terms of business benefit, not only in terms of our functional scorecards.

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