The combination of the above skill set makes them highly influential and experts in stakeholder management, which is key to delivering successful outcomes within procurement.
After taking a detailed job brief from one of my clients, I wanted to manage her expectations to what was available on the market and she said; “Alex, find me someone that is engaging, with a commercial mind and has some procurement experience – the rest I can teach” There has been a shift from the need for technical procurement experience to an increased focus for individuals with the critical skills mentioned above, sometimes referred to as ‘soft skills’. It is highly recognised that without the key combination of persuasiveness, change management and communication skills, strategies will often fail to be delivered, because of poor stakeholder management.
From a recruitment perspective it is important that successful candidates have readily prepared examples and achievements to showcase to hiring managers, demonstrating where they have managed challenging stakeholders on multiple projects, at varying speeds. The further experience you can draw upon will give the hiring manager confidence in your ability to manage and engage stakeholders.
I wanted to highlight some tips with the hope that it may help you engage with your stakeholders from what has been shared with me through my network and what I have learned through first hand experience.
The first step in managing your stakeholders is, of course, identifying them. The last thing you want is for projects to fail, or for procurement not to be involved in a project because of an unidentified stakeholder. To combat this, I would suggest drawing a stakeholder map that outlines each stakeholder’s interest and power in the project.
It is important to humanise and get to know your stakeholders to understand how to engage them. You should be finding out some key things to understand how they see the world; what are their hobbies? What’s their opinion on the organisation? What are their goals personally and within the business? What are their targets? What do they need to be successful? The more you can build their character, the more you can tailor a category/ project plan that suits them and recognise the value that you can bring to their table.
It is critical that you listen to your stakeholders and work with them collaboratively in order to keep them engaged in the process as well as manage expectations. Acting on your stakeholder’s input will be crucial to driving success. It is vital for stakeholders’ to be involved in key decisions and feel that they are adding value – after all they are often the subject matter expert.
Procurement is known traditionally for focusing purely on cost saving, in actual fact procurement is constantly being challenged within new targets and responsibilities, such as; risk management, supplier innovation, supplier relationship management and working with greener suppliers. Sharing and educating this with the business units will allow you to showcase how procurement can add value and support different business areas.
Above are just a few examples I have come across, there are of course many ways to engage stakeholders and many techniques available in order to adapt and improve your stakeholder management skills, you must tailor your approach to the individual.