The View of Procurement Within your Organization

Let’s start by asking a few important questions:

Do you consider Procurement overhead or a valued advisor and partner?

Is your Procurement tactical or strategic or both?

Does procurement sit on the Leadership team? Do they have a representative working closely with the decision makers for each department?

Have you tasked Procurement with getting the cheapest price or are you asking them to get the best value for the benefit of your patients, residents and/or staff?

Value is gained when procurement understands what you need, why you need it, and what benefits you are trying to obtain through the use of a particular product or service. This is one area where Procurement can change their visual perception within an organization. How is this accomplished?

Do you have a procurement representative who sits on your functional team? What is the role of the procurement representative? When do you bring Procurement into the conversation?

Procurement role:

  • The process for adding procurement and what should the new engagement look like.
    • Include the procurement representative at the beginning of the discussion – during the brainstorming, before you speak with a product or service salesperson, before you have decided what you need to fix the problem, when you first discover you have an issue to work on
    • This procurement representative should spend time learning from the team/staff/user
    • Attend meetings with the team
    • Listen to the teams (users) issues, needs and what they are trying to accomplish
    • Learn from the users what their unique issues are and how they currently accomplish a task
    • Listen to strategies and ideas from the end user (field person)
    • Listen to how these ideas, products or services achieve better outcomes, time savings, ease of use and/or cost savings
    • The procurement representative can then use the information obtained and their knowledge of the suppliers, products, and category to suggest some options
    • Strategize as a cross functional  team on the next steps to move the initiative forward
      • Supplier proposals
      • Supplier demos
      • Product evaluations
      • RFx
    • The procurement representative can then work with the team to put together a list of questions that need to be answered
    • Working with the team and potential suppliers the procurement representative can suggest appropriate solutions for the initiative being worked on

Teams role:

  • The process for developing an effect functional team
    • Set goals and structure for the team and the meetings
    • Determine what the final outcome or goal should be
    • Determine is this initiative a want or a need
    • Determine how success is determined for the team
    • Clearly express issues, desires, and ideas explaining as needed for new team members
    • Include cross function team members to see how products or services affect multiple areas
    • Develop strategies as a team on accomplishing specific tasks and achieving proposed outcomes

The team role listed above is a standard which should be used in development of any functional team. The addition of a Procurement representative is a new strategy for many organizations. They may have assumed that they did not need to involve procurement until they wanted to purchase the product or service. They may currently view the Procurement representative as a tactical person, someone who just buys the products (or gets the system set up so they can buy the product). It is time to alter that view.

To see Procurement as a valued advisor or partner you must understand that they bring knowledge to your team which you as an organization need. Much like you would not implement a new type of food to your menu without consulting with a dietician to determine the benefits or risks first that is the same approach you should use when adding Procurement to your team.

We have not addressed all the pieces above where Procurement involvement would benefit your organization but we wanted to point out how to start this change in the role of Procurement on the team. If you review the points listed above for Procurements role you will notice that listening and learning are both a large portion of their role, you are the expert in your field. Procurement must understand what you need and why you need it in order for them to advise you on the best course of action to obtain what you need. Once they hear the issues, obstacles and goals they can use their experience in the field that they are the experts in to advise you on the options and the risks. They can obtain answers to questions, negotiate prices, determine supplier value and advise on next steps.

There are many areas which your Procurement representative can help you once you learn to trust them. Procurement will be an advocate for your patients, residents, and staff if they are given the information and the opportunity. They want you to have what you need and at a cost of ownership which is the most beneficial to the organization. Building that trust allows you to focus on your patients knowing that you have a partner supporting you.

  • Remember that Procurement is your advisor – they don’t use the product or service you do. Be honest with them, tell them what you like and what you don’t like, what are your goals – let them hold the suppliers to their promises – let them be a major part of your functional team.
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