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CPO insight: making the most of a new Procurement role

Industry leaders explain why you should understand your company’s context, make a difference quickly and align your goals with those of senior management.

1. Context is everything

Some organisations won’t be prepared to wait 100 days for change, but others will expect you to have only made a superficial assessment in 100 days. You have to judge that based on your initial engagement within the organisation.

People really want to be listened to. It is important to have a plan but if you broadcast it far and wide presenting it as a fait accompli, you are already not listening to them, but rather telling them what your agenda is. Engage with and listen to stakeholders and be willing to change your plan based on the environment that you find, otherwise it risks being irrelevant. And talk about people’s business first and foremost, don’t limit discussion to procurement and savings.

Adrian Cook, Group Head of Procurement at Babcock International Group

2. Hit the ground running

Ahead of joining, get copies of all business plans and strategic documents, and get your PA to arrange meetings with key stakeholders and business orientation visits to major manufacturing plants. This will help you understand the business and identify the key issues quicker.

Ian Bolger, Principal at Efficio and former Head of Supply Chain at Thames Water

3. Align goals with senior management

Very quickly you have to seek buy-in from the senior team which means clear alignment with their goals is crucial. Change for the sake of change is not going to be their focus, so keep foremost in your mind what is driving the change and what you are trying to deliver. Then be articulate on the end state. In my case, it was about where we would be by 2015 in terms of cost reduction and managing external spend. Also, don’t be shy about taking some risks – it’s part of our role.

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