6 Steps to Successful Change Management in Procurement

By Hugo Britt | April 5, 2022

Change management is an essential skill for procurement professionals. It would be easy if change could be achieved by simply flicking a switch, but as you and I know, things are never that simple.

Transformation is hard. In fact, research from McKinsey found that 70% of all transformations fail. Whether you are transitioning to a more sustainable model, implementing new procurement software, or attempting to tackle maverick spend, you will inevitably need to spend time bringing stakeholders on board.

Why do transformations fail?

There are several reasons transformation fails, which makes careful change management in procurement all the more crucial.

These include:

  • Poor planning
  • No clear case for change
  • Inadequate communication and engagement
  • Lack of leadership support
  • Not moving incrementally or learning from mistakes
  • Not enough training or resources.

6 Steps for successful change management in procurement

Below, we explore six steps to getting procurement change management right the first time round.

1. Plan ahead

Planning ahead will not only help the change implementation process happen more smoothly, but will help you clarify what needs to be done, when, and how.

Start by defining your goals. What are you trying to achieve with this procurement change? Conduct any research required by interviewing subject-matter experts such as suppliers, then use this research to map out the risks involved that could derail the implementation.

Schedule milestones, assign responsibilities and tasks, and allocate resources. This last point should be planned well ahead, as the money for training costs may not be available for months.

2. Create a clear case for change

As a procurement professional, you may understand the need for a change, but are you able to articulate this to leadership teams, internal stakeholders, and suppliers?

Why, exactly, is the change needed? What will the benefits be? What’s in it for the people you are trying to convince?

3. Don’t just communicate: engage

Take the business on a journey. Regular communication is important for keeping people updated in terms of milestones and next steps, but engagement is much more effective. Engagement involves getting away from your desk to talk to people, reaching out to them based on their challenges and interests. Get to know your audience, then listen and respond to their feedback.

Speak to stakeholders using language that will resonate with them. Avoid procurement jargon, as this is sure to make people’s eyes glaze over.

4. Bring leadership on board

Even the best grass-roots movement will inevitably wither without support from senior leadership. Any business transformation needs sponsorship from the leadership team, with clear communication from the top showing why the change is important and how it aligns with organizational goals.

Leadership involvement shouldn’t happen only once. It should be sustained throughout the entire course of the implementation, with leaders continuing to show support for the project as milestones are reached.

5. Move incrementally

A “big bang” approach to change management involves bundling several changes into one major change and doing everything at once. This is a risky strategy because if something goes wrong it can be difficult to undo. Additionally, a big bang approach makes it hard to respond to changing needs or circumstances.

Take an incremental approach to change management. Split the major change into several smaller changes, then move one step at a time, gathering and responding to stakeholder feedback to correct course as you go. This agile approach will help you be more responsive, move faster, and keep people engaged through a continuous feedback loop.

6. Uplift capabilities required by the change

Don’t make the mistake of focusing efforts on the new software or new process while neglecting the most important part of the change equation – up-skilling the people who will be affected by the change. Consider who will be impacted, what new capabilities they will require to make the change a success, and how training will be provided.

Ready to make some changes but need additional support? Contact Una for more information on how our team of Sourcing Advisors can help implement strategies that take your sourcing game to the next level. 


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