An Interview with Patricia Moser: Selling Transformation

In moving purchasing from a tactical function to a strategic driver of value within the enterprise, Chief Procurement Officer Patricia Moser focuses on marketing the transformation throughout the business.


That's why you actually need to sell procurement to the organization in the same way that we get sold to by vendors. You have to create a marketing plan to build awareness of the benefits that procurement brings to the enterprise, and, inevitably, you have to define an appropriate value proposition for the organization that engages people throughout the company and makes them seek you out, makes them want to work with you. Because, at the end of the day, as much as you would like to mandate that people work with you, organizations can be exceedingly creative in getting around mandates and not necessarily even because of any malicious intent, but because procurement is viewed as an obstacle and not necessarily a value-add.

From a practical standpoint, you need to work with your internal clients to identify their needs and requirements. So, in addition to meeting with your team and getting feedback from suppliers, you have to go around and meet with the stakeholders in all the various areas of your company. That's how you can create client delight, which inevitably creates client loyalty. Your internal clients will continually come back for more services and also talk to others within the organization about the benefits that you have brought to them.

One of the unique things that I've done in this organization is to create client executives. Of course, we've developed the strategic sourcing and contract group, defined by category, which is basically what most organizations do. But we also have three unique roles, the client executives, who basically are my sales team and my business development group a relationship-building group to the organization as a whole. They are aligned by operating unit, with a cable/VoIP client executive, a wireless/media client executive, and a client executive who has responsibility for those areas of high integral spend, such as information technology (IT), human resources and facilities.
The client executives don't have any direct reports, and their sole purpose is to sell procurement to their respective clients. They're sitting at the meetings with their respective client groups. They're constantly mining for opportunities for the operating units to utilize procurement's services, and they're defining the benefits of working with procurement and what we bring to the table. Then they are the feeder back to the strategic sourcing team.

One benefit of having this kind of role in the organization is that people will often go off and negotiate something or engage a supplier on their own because they really don't know who to contact within the procurement team. Now our people have a singular point of contact that can direct them appropriately and then follow up to see how things are working out. Inherently, this enables procurement to be part of the business up front, as opposed to an afterthought.

The other aspect that we're working on as part of the marketing plan is re-branding our group. Previously the group has had the moniker of purchasing. Purchasing is a well-worn phrase; it is an older type of terminology for an older type of procurement organization. Now we're in the process of re-branding and moving from being called Purchasing to being called Procurement Business Services. The reasoning behind that is that procurement is obviously what we do, services are what we provide, and business is what we are an integral part of. So the naming convention has meaning for both the team as well as the organization as a whole.

S&DCE: Could you talk a little more about the value that procurement brings to the organization?

Moser: That goes back to one of the earlier statements that I made, which is that procurement is a profession. We bring a significant level of subject-matter expertise, negotiating skills and knowledge across the enterprise. We have fairly good knowledge of what worked in one area, what didn't work in another, as well as the potential to help one business unit do something creative because of what we've seen elsewhere.
We also are an extremely objective entity. There's an inherent need to work with stakeholders and bring folks together as a team. But when the stakeholders need to work with vendors on a daily basis, we can come in and, because we don't have those day-to-day relationships, bring a level of objectivity to the table.

Generally there's a trend toward having the procurement team expand beyond the strategic sourcing and supplier/vendor relationship aspects toward influencing and assisting organizations as a whole in getting to the next level in their relationships with partners. That's where we're talking about positioning organizations in strategic alliances by being at the table not only when the account representatives are meeting with suppliers but when the senior-level representatives of corporations are meeting with each other; we're moving up to the next level.

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