Do you want onion with that?

May 20th, 2013

Is your procurement department being treated like onions where it was once included as part of the condiment package but now is an option for other departments?

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing. Mark asks ”

It wasn’t too long ago that restaurants and quick service restaurants included onions on things they served as part of the package.  If you didn’t want them included you needed to make a special request. Somewhere along the line onions must have gotten a bad name because more and more when you order something they tell you in advance and give you the opportunity to remove them from the deal right then and there.

It occurred to me that I have begun seeing this mindset frequently in the procurement world as well, as departments are now getting to choose when the procurement department gets brought in and at what level they are participating.  Like the onion, I don’t think procurement teams have deserved their new fate, but like it or not, it is the way many companies now operate.

Today we will be looking at some ways to deal with this change using methods not unlike a chef would in order to keep the onions in the dish and keep the customer happy.

Understand the onion – One of  the many  issues that many procurement departments are dealing with is that they do not truly understand the issues other departments have with involving them. Without knowing why someone is hesitant to include you it makes it difficult to counter on why you should be included.  Arguments like “you only care about the lowest price”, “This project is too complicated”, “we are too far along”, “this isn’t a commodity” are common and how they are responded too must be addressed in advance by your team so that you can acknowledge the other departments’ hesitancy.   Please review the SafeSourcing blog on handling objections to help with this.

Transform the onion – In my family I have people who would not touch a raw onion to save their life but have no problem eating onion rings (I know, I don’t get that either).  By transforming the onion it becomes an agreeable object.  There are times when procurement teams need to undergo a similar transformation by assisting departments in ways that help them while still achieving your goals of controlling costs.  Working on requests for proposals that offer vendors a best and final price adjustment can help everyone achieve their goals in a new way that does not threaten the integrity other departments are hoping to keep.

Don’t tell on the onion –  I have watched people cooking meals sneak unwanted ingredients into the recipe masterfully in ways that no one would know only to be undone by feeling the need to tell their secret afterwards.  Telling someone they just ate an onion they didn’t know about rarely leads to them to start liking onions.  For a procurement professional this means when you get an opportunity to help a department like IT run a project on enterprise software don’t ruin it by touting about how you reduced the cost, instead focus on how you helped that team find the best solution for the company while getting the vendor to include free training and a reducing the costs by 12%.   This lets the business owners hold onto the fact that the decision was truly made based on value and not just price which is really how every project should be.

If you are a procurement team struggling to get included in all of your company’s spend projects we at SafeSourcing are constantly helping our customers and can assist you by explaining our recommended strategy for helping departments that historically not wanted “help.”

 For more information on these strategies or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today

We look forward to your comments.

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