Change Management Tips for Procurement Professionals

Practical change management tips for overcoming resistance from stakeholders and getting your procurement changes to stick for good.

By Hugo Britt | October 31, 2023

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You know how kids sometimes resist trying new foods, even if they turn out to be delicious? Anyone who has been around small children knows how it goes…

You slave over a meal only to be met with disgust. You prepare their favorite snack only to be informed that while it was their favorite snack yesterday, it’s definitely not their favorite snack today. Going into a meal, you might expect to beg and employ your best negotiation tactics. No judgment here, but perhaps you succumb to bribing the tiny human because you’re desperate for them to consume something other than goldfish crackers and apple juice. No matter the situation, it can be hard.

Unfortunately, implementing changes in procurement can be a bit like that. You’ve got a fantastic recipe for cost savings, but not everyone at the table is eager to take that first bite.

Why do people resist change?

While we don’t always understand what’s going on inside the underdeveloped mind of a small child, there has been a heap of research into the psychology of change management.

People resist change due to their fear of the unknown, concern about losing control over their work environment, or a fear of failure. Comfort with the status quo is another strong motivator for resistance, along with a lack of understanding of the change and a perceived lack of benefit.

At a more fundamental level, organizational culture can strongly influence resistance to change, along with a lack of trust in the leadership team driving the change.

To fear change is human but thankfully, there are ways to make your procurement changes desirable to stakeholders so that when the time comes you're not met with resistance.

Change management tips for procurement

To fear change is human. But don’t fret; the team at Una has gathered together several practical tips for making your procurement changes so palatable that your stakeholders will soon be asking for more.

1. Clearly define the change

The first and most critical step in any change management initiative is to clearly define the change you are proposing.

Ambiguity can fuel resistance.

Ensure that the change is well-documented, and the objectives and expected outcomes are articulated in a way that all stakeholders can understand. The more transparent and comprehensive the communication, the more likely you are to gain buy-in.

2. Create a compelling case for change

Make a strong business case for the change. Explain why it’s necessary and how it will lead to cost savings. Utilize data, statistics, and real-world examples to support your arguments.

Procurement managers need to be adept at presenting the financial benefits in a clear and compelling manner, highlighting the long-term value the change will bring.

3. Stakeholder engagement

Engaging stakeholders early and consistently is crucial. Identify and involve key stakeholders from various departments who will be affected by the change. Their input can provide valuable insights and help in tailoring the change to minimize disruption to their operations. Communicate with them regularly to address concerns and show that their input is valued.

4. Change champions

Identify and empower change champions within your organization. These individuals can be influential advocates for the change. They can help build support among their peers, address concerns, and showcase the benefits they anticipate from the change. Change champions can come from various levels and departments, not just within the procurement team.

5. Change resisters

Anticipate resistance and be prepared to address it constructively. There will always be individuals who are hesitant or resistant to change. It’s essential to understand their concerns and engage in open dialogue.

Sometimes, these individuals can provide valuable insights and uncover potential pitfalls in your plan. By addressing their concerns, you can turn some resisters into allies – or at least into neutrals who will no longer attempt to block the change.

6. Education and training

Invest in education and training programs to equip your team and other stakeholders with the knowledge and skills required for the change. A lack of understanding or competency in the new processes or tools can be a significant barrier. Develop a comprehensive training plan and make resources readily available for all those affected.

7. Pilot programs

Consider implementing the change on a smaller scale before a full-scale rollout. Pilot programs allow you to iron out any kinks and demonstrate the value of the change to stakeholders in a controlled environment. This can build confidence and momentum for broader implementation.

8. Communication strategy

Develop a well-thought-out communication plan. Regular, clear, and transparent communication is key to keeping stakeholders informed about the progress of the change. Use various channels, such as meetings, emails, intranet, and even visual aids, to reach a wider audience effectively. Be sure to highlight the benefits of the change at every opportunity.

No matter what change you are trying to achieve, applying a few or all of the strategies mentioned here will help increase the likelihood of a successful transition.

9. Celebrate successes

When milestones are reached and cost savings are realized, celebrate and communicate these successes. This not only acknowledges the hard work put in by the team but also serves as a constant reminder of the positive impact the change is having on the organization.

10. Flexibility

Be open to adjustments along the way. Change management is not a one-size-fits-all process. Feedback from stakeholders can lead to refinements in your approach. Flexibility demonstrates your willingness to adapt and meet the needs of the organization.

11. Data-driven approach

Throughout the change process, collect and analyze data to measure the impact of the change. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess whether the change is delivering the expected cost savings and other benefits. Being able to demonstrate the success of the change with data can be a powerful tool for gaining support.

12. Risk management

Identify potential risks associated with the change and develop a risk management plan. By proactively addressing risks, you can mitigate their impact on the implementation process. This will also demonstrate that you’ve considered potential obstacles and have a strategy in place to address them.

Download Una’s free playbook, How to Manage Risk Using a Group Purchasing Organization:

13. Feedback loops

Establish feedback mechanisms to gather input from stakeholders throughout the change process. Listen to their concerns, suggestions, and criticisms. Make adjustments where necessary to address issues as they arise. This constant feedback loop ensures that the change remains responsive to the organization’s needs.

14. Change failure

Be mindful of change fatigue, as too many simultaneous changes can overwhelm your organization. Prioritize changes based on their strategic importance and potential impact. Managing change in a phased and logical manner can help avoid resistance caused by overload.

15. Senior leadership support

Engage senior leadership and secure their visible support for the change. When top executives demonstrate their commitment to the initiative, it sends a powerful message throughout the organization. Their support can also help in breaking down resistance from lower levels.

16. Incentives and recognition

Consider offering incentives or recognition to individuals or departments that embrace and excel in the new processes. Positive reinforcement can motivate and create a culture that values change and innovation.

17. Document the journey

Throughout the change process, keep thorough records of the steps taken, challenges faced, and lessons learned. This documentation can serve as a valuable resource for future change initiatives and can help in sharing best practices with others in the organization.

Good luck with your change initiative!

No matter what change you are trying to achieve – switching suppliers, boosting sustainability, or partnering with a group purchasing organization like Una – applying the strategies above will help increase the likelihood of a successful transition.

Remember, change management isn’t just a means to an end; it’s a fundamental skill that can drive long-term success in procurement.

And if you happen to stumble upon a sure-fire way to get kids to try new foods on their own accord, we’re all ears!

Looking to implement changes that improve the procurement process and increase cost savings? Download Una’s free playbook today:

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