Our sports team in the big final. Our procurement team in the big negotiation. We all dream of being the MVP for our team in the big moments.
To be the MVP of our team. Oh, how we dream of this reality. An aspiration many of us have had and hold onto throughout our lives…and our careers.
This term, typically reserved for the sporting type, is now being applied to all types of teams including business teams. I can certainly discuss and dialogue about the attributes and success factors of being the MVP of your team.
However, in this blog, I am going to focus on being the MVP to your stakeholder – the business, function or partner that you should be focusing on to enable and ensure their success.
In the world of procurement, this has not always been easy. We have been characterised too often as gatekeepers and administrators by these same stakeholders, and not as the value business partners or MVP’s we aspire to be.
So, what needs to change?
Be the ‘Trusted Advisor’
In 2014, The Hackett Group highlighted 5 characteristics of world-class procurement organisations. After studying these organisations, we found that they were unique in that they were able to establish a more trusted and advisor-like relationship with the stakeholders they supported.
We termed this as being a “trusted business advisor”. Shortly after we released our research, organisations were asking how they could become a trusted business advisor and where could they get trained.
I scratched my head as I pondered. Being a “trusted business advisor” was not something you as an individual determined. It was your stakeholder who bestowed this designation upon you. We also realised that there was no guarantee of success.
Pull the Needs, Don’t Push the Services
In 2015, we added “being a trusted business advisor” to the listing of priorities in our annual and global procurement key issues study. Lo and behold, procurement leaders around the world selected it as their number one priority as individuals and functions.
In 2016, we asked these leaders their opinion of what it takes to achieve this status. First and foremost, they highlighted the need to deliver on the basics – cost, delivery and quality. This made a lot of sense to us as it was foundational.
Similarly, everyone you meet does not immediately become your best friend, or even your friend. Those designations are earned over time through many interactions, but the chemistry needs to be there as well.
They also highlighted the need to be agile and not being a “hammer looking for a nail”. Trusted business advisors need to create more of a “pull” model for their services and less of a “push” model. The best create a portfolio of services based on the needs of their stakeholders, even if it not part of the standard procurement portfolio of services.
Just Do It – Be the MVP
If it will make the stakeholder successful (and is a logical extension to your standard services), just do it.
There are quite a few real life examples, but one that illustrates this best is a global process manufacturer that had extended its well-established six sigma capabilities to its internal stakeholders. Their aim was to improve the efficiency of their processes uncovered in various category management activities.
Though six sigma is not a standard procurement service, this organisation was able to establish itself as a centre of process improvement capability for the enterprise. They not only extended their procurement service portfolio, but also strengthened their stakeholder relationships.
Being a trusted business advisor is not an end goal, but an enabler. An enabler that once you are in a trusted advisory relationship, you now have the permission as well as the expectation that you will provide value to enable the success of your stakeholder.
In other words, be their MVP.
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