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Proving Procurement’s Strategic Value, Part 1
This is the first in a two-part series. Part 2 will run on Thursday, September 11th.
These days, with tightened budgets and enlarged job expectations, it’s important for CPOs, purchasing managers, and buyers to know how to prove their strategic value to the organization. This can be a huge challenge for most people. Knowing how to market yourself is extremely important, particularly if you want to move up in your career. We’ve all seen less talented people get promoted, simply because they are better at managing their image to supervisors and internal stakeholders.
Everyone is responsible for marketing or sales in some form or another. Purchasing professionals may not be in a sales or marketing position, but they do need to know how to sell themselves as knowledgeable professionals who are a valuable resource to those they deal with. Here are some strategies to help you market yourself and your strategic value to the organization.
- Define Leadership Qualities. It’s important to take a few moments and look at your current job description and those of the job above yours to see what leadership qualities are listed. Sample job descriptions on the NIGP site use language like: “Ability to use judgment and initiative in making recommendations and resolving problems that are highly complex in nature,” “Ability to make difficult decisions” and “Represent the program to other departments and suppliers.” What leadership qualities are outlined in job descriptions? How do you measure up against those descriptions?
- Create Your Personal Mission Statement. Companies write mission statements because it helps focus people’s efforts. By writing a personal mission statement, you can do the same thing: focus your efforts into proving your worth.
- Position Yourself. It’s hard for most people to celebrate or document their work victories. It seems like bragging or some other negative thing, so people keep their wins under their hat. The problem is that by keeping it to yourself, you’re probably damaging your career. If you used initiative in solving a problem, let people know about it. If you made a difficult decision and it paid off, tell your boss about it. Document and communicate your personal achievements – it’s really not bragging, it’s just good practice.
- Communicate Successes in Understandable Language. You did something amazing on the job and you let your supervisor know about it in an email filled with jargon and inside references. Your victory probably ends there. Your supervisor is also looking for ways to market the department and his or her leadership to stakeholders. If your email is too technical or jargon-y, he or she will be less likely to pass it up the chain. Explain your success in language that everyone can understand and it may go further than your boss’s inbox.
- Demonstrate Efficiency. Some people are list makers and others are not. If you’re not a list maker – get over it and start embracing the list. For those who are naturally inclined to work to a list, take a hard look at it. Have you prioritized your tasks? Do you know at a glance what must be completed, as opposed to what may be addressed when you have the time? If you get the hardest and most important tasks off of your plate first, your days get much easier.
- Bring Market Intelligence. The fact that you are reading this article means that you are interested in learning what other purchasing professionals do and in knowing what industry experts are saying. Keeping up with what is happening in the industry shouldn’t be overly time consuming. Subscribe to the newsletters of some key publications and destinations like Buyers’ Meeting Point. Check out and join LinkedIn groups that focus on procurement.
- Increase Efficiency. Purchasing is a very process-based, tactical job. It is also very strategically important. Keep in mind ways that you can improve efficiencies and save money. Gather intelligence on the subject and present your ideas to your supervisor.
- Make Technology Your Friend. If you are still doing paper-based processes or if you are lost in a swamp of emails, spreadsheets and Word documents, take a look around at what solutions are on the market that can help your organization automate. If you become knowledgeable about e-procurement solutions, ERP and other systems, you can make intelligent and strategic recommendations to your supervisors and power stakeholders.
Remember that you don’t have to be a marketing person or even like marketing to use strategies to raise your professional profile. If you have ambitions, you must learn how to manage your image and promote your successes.