Market Dojo continues its search into transforming procurement teams in the CPO’s first 100 days. This time our guest contributor is Erik Van Kampen.
Erik is an experienced and successful procurement professional with proven success and continuous progression gained within major blue chip companies, including heading up Procurement at Old Mutual Wealth. Erik shares his view on the first 100 days as a CPO.
Procurement is common sense, right? We all buy things every day, whether it’s shopping, holidays, cars or computers. We become perceived experts in what we buy. It’s hardly surprising that when you join a new organisation, there may be differing opinions and expectations of colleagues and stakeholders about your approach and strategy.
What did you promise you could deliver during the multitude of interviews and what do you expect to achieve? How do you assess opportunities and when do you do it? A previous boss and mentor once said to me that the first 100 days was “your only opportunity to ask stupid questions” which made me laugh at the time, but I guess has its merits.
There is only a limited time for you to take stock before someone will ask ‘now what’. The ‘now what’ is what will shape your success, and from my experience, this is five ways to get there.
Set the tone. Be clear about what you will and can achieve and what is needed from stakeholders to succeed. Procurement is not rocket science so don’t make it difficult for people to understand. Something that always helps me is to be clear, use plain English, and be accessible to your team, stakeholders, and key suppliers. Establishing an understanding of key contracts, areas of spending, policies and process as well as the systems that are in place would be one of the first stops.
My natural style is to focus on relationships. People need people and while technical skills are important, unless you can relate to other people and influence them then the outcomes will not be optimal. Lastly, be honest and straight up with people. The key deliverable may be a strategy paper or roadmap focusing on aspects such as Sourcing Execution, People, Systems & Tools, as well as Policy, Process and Governance and when things can be achieved.
The most successful teams I’ve worked in have a complimentary mix of personalities, skills, and experience. You shouldn’t hire in your own likeness, nor should you be intimidated by people with more experience or a different outlook. Provided everyone is working towards the same overall objectives and support one another then you’re halfway there.
Competition is healthy and can be good fun if you don’t take yourself too seriously. Get to know people, their strengths, weaknesses and aspirations (personal and professional). Use the knowledge that is already in place and don’t rush into making wholesale changes just because you’re new, unless there are clear issues that need to be addressed, There are bound to be disagreements, but establish trust and respect early and avoid ‘public’ arguments when opinions differ.
Look at what is in place. Are policies easy to understand and are they concise, or a source of frustration and to be avoided at all costs? Think about how you can make it easy for people to do business: with suppliers and procurement. Different industries require/welcome different levels of compliance and control; use a flexible and risk-based approach.
Procurement is evolving and technology platforms are becoming more commonplace so don’t be afraid to try things out and don’t believe that a single solution provider is the best route. Decide which aspects would benefit from integration (if any) which could mean not sourcing the best but something that does the job.
Personally, I don’t believe that full-scale automation is going to be the answer to everyone’s Procurement woes, but I do believe technology has its place. However, the business process and data behind it must be effective and mature.
Crap in = crap out! Data relies on the input source so unless the people putting the information incorrectly, you are off to a bad start and fixing will take a lot of effort. Make sure you have skills in place to drive adoption and manage ongoing data quality.
Data quality is key to any Procurement function. Whether the subject matter is spend data, contracts, etc. if you get it wrong you risk undermining the credibility of the function and individuals in it. Work hard to get it right and ensure resources are available to maintain it. It is critical that sourcing and procurement teams know why it’s important and understands that they are pivotal to it.
Erik is currently working as an interim Market Data Procurement Consultant at Chain IQ Group, where he is engaging with key financial index providers to ensure compliance with the European Benchmark Regulation. If you would like to reach Erik directly, you can find him on Linkedin.
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