In my mind, I see a line. And over that that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no matter how. I can’t seem to get over that line. That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800’s. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
(Viola Davis, 2015).
The only thing that stands between success and failure for an SME or QSE is opportunity. For suppliers to be defined as excellent, as trusted and the “go to supplier”, they have had to be provided with opportunities to perfect their craft. Opportunities (plural), as it takes time, effort and continuous improvements to master a craft to properly resourced, capable and reputable businesses that are supported by your SD initiative.
Procurement and Supply Chain Professionals are well positioned to create and execute these opportunities, and many have taken on this challenge. We are however, finding multiple failures in many of these initiatives. We just can’t seem to get over that line of mediocrity to get to excellence.
The ability to extend the intent of the opportunity through the entire value chain is central to Supplier Development. The decision to provide an opportunity to a different or new supplier is an important factor, but only one factor. The ability for Procurement and Supply Chain Professionals to sell and get buy-in for this decision, which in turn impacts the environment that these suppliers will work in, defines success.
This on its own is a practice of Change Management. The ability to craft a future that is so compelling that its execution follows seamlessly from decision making, without needing the Procurement and Supply Change Professional post the decision.
What is of interest is that the Procurement and Supply Change Professional is looking at the entire value chain from a place or perspective of limited influence or power.
Procurement and Supply Change Professional are:
- Not key decision makers.
- Not requirements technical experts.
- Not end users or consumers of the product/service provided.
However – there is still a need for this central body that has a view of all sides, to play a role that can redefine the way that Supplier Development is implemented. The reality has necessitated a new set of skills required from the Procurement and Supply Change Professional! These include; the ability to be able to lead without a title, influence areas where you have no technical expertise, inspire new strategic thinking at leadership level for vision aligned decisions and most importantly, to support and enable an accepting environment for suppliers when opportunities are provided! This is a tall order, but an exciting one as well. The role of Procurement has transcended beyond Supply Chain principles, and has created an opportunity to proactively transform our economy.
This new role needs to be analysed, engineered and developed by multiple players in the organisation. The key drivers to these programmes are; Leadership, Procurement and Supply Chain, as well as Human Resources and Marketing. Through a combination of skills, a fit for purpose Programme will enable successful engagements of new suppliers, and ultimately a positive impact to our economy.
The ability to prepare our organisations, our users and our leaders as vigorously and aggressively as we do through investments in preparing and developing suppliers is the key to successful Supplier Development. Its success will provide confident and successful opportunity creation at Procurement and Supply Chain level. As much as professionals have invested and continue to invest in supplier development, there is a need to invest in Organisational Readiness for Supplier Development Programmes.
What does this all mean for you as Professional?
- Look at documented SD lessons learnt from end users (if none, run workshops to gather this information).
- Understand what the barriers for acceptance are, as well as key resistant individuals and groups (get HR to assist as they are experts in organisational and human behaviour).
- Design an organisation wide programme that addresses the fears of the organisation. Then, provide information about the initiatives and engage the organisation consistently.
- Carefully select a handful of suppliers (who can handle the pressure and are on your SD Program, with correct supportive structures in place) to test organisational readiness.
The only thing that stands between success and failure for an SME or QSE is opportunity. Procurement and Supply Chain Professionals are the central players on the Procurement Value Chain, and only they can create an environment where this opportunity can be created, accepted and implemented successfully.