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How to Get Leadership to Buy Into Procurement Innovation

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During our FORGE Blue Sky event in November, speakers Brandon Card, Joseph Martinez, Brett Healy, and Bo Dungal led a discussion—Disruptive Innovation: Re-imagine your Innovation Roadmap—on disruptive innovation and convincing investors to “show you the money.” The group discussed how to get leadership to buy into procurement innovation. 

Getting investment from the C-suite to improve processes has long been a struggle for procurement. After all, proving procurement’s strategic position has been an uphill battle. However, to compete in today’s markets full of constant upheaval, procurement investment must be a top priority. 

According to the experts, procurement must get off legacy systems and provide an innovation road map with directions devoted to driving change and value—all of which take internal investment and alignment.

To Get Leadership to Buy Into Procurement Innovation, Get Them on the Same Page

According to our speakers, one of the keys to getting leadership on board in supporting new initiatives is by encouraging collaboration. One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on business outcomes that can be shared, thus aligning your desired initiatives up with an endgame that can fuel enthusiasm and spur action.

You must get across the idea that investing in certain areas will help achieve business outcomes. The best way to sell leadership on your initiatives is to show tangible evidence of your transformation’s beneficial outcomes (thanks to their investment in it). In simple terms: The proof is in the pudding, and when shown what feasible good can come from their investments, leadership will be more eager to sign off on new initiatives.

Showing the true rate of return in business case—while making sure it is correct, of course— can motivate investment.

The experts encouraged us to look at the long-term transformation needs via smaller, far more manageable bites by breaking them up into short-term windows. This way, if overwhelm threatens to derail things, focusing on attainable, short-term goals (windows) can seem far more promising and digestible. 

While this may seem like a no-brainer, many miss this next vital step: Build a strong relationship with key executives.There are many reasons why this is a smart practice, the main one being that an investment of any level—especially a large one—requires trust on the part of the investor. They must trust you and what you are trying to sell them on. And that trust is easier to gain when you have already established a strong relationship.

Finally, hedge your bets and convince investors by creating consistent value within the business. When they can see the value, it shows them that their investment is not only being used wisely but that it is and will continue going to a worthy—and rewarding—initiative.

Tie New Initiatives into Customer Experience 

One winning way to reveal procurement’s importance and value is to use customer experience as a segue. If customer experience is the mindset, it pulls procurement directly into the process of embracing new initiatives. For example, how do we improve our service offering? Procurement (and future investment in it) has to be a pivotal part of the answer to that question.

You can also make significant gains by providing a line of sight to the benefit in the end-to-end life cycle. People like to envision the end rewards their efforts (initiative investments) bring.

A great exercise is to imagine your customers’ experiences and give them what they need. To do this well, you need to be out in the market to see the innovations as they arise and come out with new initiatives to keep up with the pace.

Another route is repurposing what is already out there but with marked improvement. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with this strategy. 

Finally, this should be a given, but often is a skipped step: spend time and effort understanding the end-user. Only by doing so can you make sure your offered solution is actually solving a problem.

Re-imagine Your Innovation Roadmap

Thanks to Brandon, Joseph, Brett, and Bo, disruptive innovation doesn’t seem so daunting: we now have a ready-made plan to bring investors—and their support—onboard our chosen initiatives. 

By Michael Cadieux

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