Communication is crucial to supply chain success and yet it is surprisingly one of the biggest areas in need of improvement.
When it comes to cooperating with staff in other departments, many procurement professionals admit it is very difficult. And when it comes to communicating with those outside the organisation, i.e. the suppliers, communications can become even further strained.
The Importance Of Communication In Supply Chains
It all boils down to the simple fact that with proper communication between stakeholders and external suppliers, more creative ideas can be brought to the table, thus improving the process. If people from different points of the process are able give ideas for improvements based on firsthand experience, it stands to reason that this will made for a much better managed process. If communication is limited, so is the ability of the procurement department to influence the end to end procurement process.
Steps To Improving Procurement Communications
If we are to tackle this communication issue in supply chains, there are some steps that procurement professionals need to consider:
- Prioritise stakeholders/suppliers. Assess how supportive your stakeholders are and their importance to the organisation. Suppliers; consider the impact it would have on your business if they stopped supplying and how strategic they are.
- Regularly meet with stakeholders and suppliers. By getting together with them on a regular basis (weekly for instance) you can highlight and tackle their concerns and worries as they occur. Don’t be scared to over-communicate, make sure they are regularly updated even if it’s just a quick summary email. With suppliers it’s also important to regularly asses how you can improve your relationship from both sides, and offer constructive feedback to the supplier as well as asking for it yourself.
- Always offer options. After negotiations, produce a list of options and relevant cases that back up each. This way, you are giving the stakeholders some influence and aren’t taking the decision out of their hands, making them feel they have status.
When it comes to the communication method itself, you should assess which method best suits the situation and will deliver the optimum results. There are also some basic principles to consider when it comes how you communicate with stakeholders and suppliers:
- Be clear. This may sound like an obvious basic principle, but it’s vital to make sure the ‘narrative’ of the proposal comes across so stakeholders understand and are excited by what you are proposing. Use a brief headline to sum up the proposal and focus on the benefits the project will deliver as well as how they will be achieved.
- Tailor it. When getting across the key benefits of the project, don’t just focus on general benefits and costs. Consider the stakeholders you are addressing and tailor it to show how you will tackle their own individual concerns.
- Be personal and pragmatic. Often with stakeholders, it’s more beneficial to give them a call or pay a quick visit than to send less direct communication such as emails. A personal and pragmatic approach will get faster and better results when aiming to implement change.
The importance of communication both with internal stakeholders and external suppliers cannot be overlooked. With the right steps taken and changes applied you can turn around poor communication and improve the procurement process.