2 Key Aspects of Better Communication

I think anyone that has been involved in any long-term personal relationship would agree that clear communication is a key feature to any healthy relationship. Most would likely also agree this applies to professional relationships, be it with one’s superiors, team members, subordinates, and even across business units. Why then, as found in Deloitte’s Global CPO Survey 2013, does this continue to be a large obstacle for Procurement teams?

According to Deloitte’s findings, 88% of CPOs report delivering on or exceeding their savings plan. However, two-thirds say they have been only somewhat effective at delivering value to their stakeholders! So they are reaching their goals, but despite this they aren’t sure they are delivering value to the business. Deloitte does a great job summarizing some efforts that can be taken to overcome this gap, and I’d like to suggest what I feel may be the most important: Communication.

Shared Goals

Can you have a sustained, successful personal relationship with someone without any shared goals? It doesn’t seem likely. Why should professional relationships be any different? Deloitte found that in many cases Procurement is not sharing their objectives with the business at all. How can alignment and harmony occur if the two parties do not share, or in some cases even know, the goals of the other?

Only 63% of CPOs responded that they have Procurement targets that are jointly owned between the procurement function and internal business stakeholders. This indicates a huge communication gap between Procurement and other parts of the business function.

Language

We often hear that Procurement teams have challenges with getting the other parts of the business function to understand (and buy-in to) Procurement’s objectives and goals, and why they positively impact the overall business objective beyond saving a few dollars. I started to suggest toward the end of my previous blog how important language is to this process.

Deloitte suggests, quite accurately in my opinion, Procurement should be working to adopt the language of the broader business. While there is often frustration that internal stakeholders are not attempting to understand Procurement’s role and function, how much effort does Procurement put forth attempting to speak the language of their various internal customers (step in to their shoes, if you will)? The most effective communicators throughout history have had a knack for knowing how to speak the same language as their audience, even when they may not have the same shared experiences. There is a lesson to be learned from them.

Speaking the same language as your internal customers and aligning around shared goals should go quite a long way toward helping CPOs effectively communicate their results/successes with the broader business, something Deloitte found that only 57% are able to do today. There is an array of tools available to help foster this communication, and help strengthen a sustained relationship.

In what ways do you deliver value to your stakeholders? Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting @iasta.

4 Responses to 2 Key Aspects of Better Communication

  1. Great post Chad … I couldn’t agree more. Communication is key in most activities!!

    Thoroughly understanding a Stakeholder’s Critical to Quality Characteristics and KPIs is a good first step in the communication process. that process sometimes requires learning a ‘new language’ and may shift the focus of the Sourcing effort from pure cost savings to service or quality improvement or shifting some work to a supplier to reduce internal effort and costs. once the requirements are understood and become shared goals, it is easier to deliver supplier solutions that address those requirements and goals.

    One of the values of good Subject Matter Experts is they ‘speak the language’ of the category, can quickly establish Stakeholder confidence and determine Stakeholder requirements … and then deliver on those needs.

  2. Thanks, Don. Agreed on all counts, especially your point about SMEs.

  3. Excellent blog you have here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours nowadays.
    I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

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