Seeing Supply Chain as a support activity

I wonder if procurement is often seen as the “guardian of the sacred procurement process” by clients rather than a true support activity. Tim, what can be done to correct this impression and to balance the needs of the client and the process?

Tim’s reply

It’s one of the age old laments. “We’re not understood, not appreciated. and not respected. Funny, but in recent years, we – as an Agency working directly with SC employers, HAVE noticed a definate increase in the understanding and appreciation of the Supply Chain function. The main cause of this, I’m sure, has been the recession, and a greater emphasis on cost savings and other SC effeciencies which directly impact on the bottom line. Is there a better way to get your employer’s and client’s attention?

So what can be done to correct this impression and WHO is ultimately responsible?

EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE. It’s up to YOU and other supply professionals who are in direct contact with those who feel you’re being difficult, demanding or standing in their way. Frankly it’s your job and your responsibility to ensure your clients and other key stakeholders in the supply process, understand and appreciate supply’s impact on the bottom line and the myriad other substantial benefits that you bring to the table as a Supply Chain professional such as cost savings, improved terms and conditions, risk mitigation, quality control, and vendor management, all of which compliment your firm’s strategic direction, and much more. Most who feel you’re ‘in the way’ would have ONLY considered ‘cost’ as a factor, imagine their surprise when you clarify the entire 10 step strategic sourcing model.

Correcting the impression your describe is through educating key stakeholders, clearly and constantly reporting the value you bring (when you’re correctly brought into the process) and it’s much easier when it’s clear you’ve got your mandate and ‘marching orders’ directly from senior management.

Sure it’s frustrating, but it’s far more aggravating ignoring things and having in/external clients disregard (and/or disrespect) your involvement, do things themselves, and unknowingly cause a direct negative impact on profitability, your department’s key performance indicators, increased risk, lower quality, and other critical factors.

Good luck. It’s worth the effort!