The digital transformation of procurement departments, or even the difficulties arising from the restructuring of economic models by businesses seeking recovery, may require the involvement of a procurement consultant. However, choosing the right procurement consultant for your business and for your work philosophy is important. Choosing the wrong partner can have disastrous consequences.
That is why it's a good idea to ask yourself the right questions before signing a contract with your future procurement consultant. Five questions that are likely to significantly inform your decision are as follows:
- What is their experience with your problem?
- Is pre-immersion part of their professional practice?
- Is co-construction integrated into their approach?
- Are they approachable enough to be able to communicate with all of your stakeholders?
- Would you be able to end the collaboration at any time without having to restart the project?
Procurement departments face numerous challenges. Indeed, the challenges arising from the current period arrive on top of the demands that procurement departments are increasingly facing.
However, a procurement consultant's professional credibility generally involves having experience that focuses on only some of the challenges faced by procurement departments. Although an inexperienced individual may put forward more innovative ideas, it is best to choose a procurement consultant who has recently been faced with challenges similar to yours.
Experience is not the only key to assessing the possibility of a partnership with a procurement consultant. Indeed, your potential partner's philosophy is equally as important.
In particular, the procurement consultant's humility—their ability to take a step back and assess the current situation before considering any further action—is a quality of which you should be aware. These two levers of success are particularly important:
- Pre-immersion of the procurement consultant
- An effort to grasp the intricacy of the workings of your organisation
To an extent, a consultant also acts as a supplier; the strength of your relationship plays into the success of your collaboration.
Look for a procurement consultant who listens to you and thinks like you do. Unless the task requires turnkey expertise, you already have part of the answer thanks to your practical experience.
No matter the task you envisage outsourcing to a procurement consultant, it is likely that they will meet various different people on the work site whilst carrying it out. Indeed, procurement departments have long understood the benefit of collaborating with other areas of the company.
Therefore, a procurement consultant needs to be competent and approachable enough to understand all of the areas in which you and your team work — and of course, be understood by them, too.
A consulting task must be able to be stopped when you decide. In any case, do not leave yourself at a disadvantage when it is stopped, either at your own initiative or that of the procurement consultant.
The ultimate key to choosing your future partner, like those involved in selecting an e-procurement solution, is the accessibility of the methodology. It is sensible to adopt an approach that is controlled by a large number of operators who can step in as a replacement, rather than being locked into an approach that only a small number of experts hold all the knowledge.
To sum up, there are as many procurement consultants as there are transformation projects. Most procurement consultants do their job perfectly, but they can be more or less suitable for the specifics of the task for which you are considering them. Therefore, the challenge is not choosing the best procurement consultant, but the one with whom you have the greatest chance of completing the project as smoothly as possible.
Choosing a suitable procurement consultant is a good exercise that should be added to your professional repertoire. To learn more on this topic, take a look at the recent article by Julie Dang Tran, Managing Director of Manutan France, Eight best practices to help procurement departments prepare for the aftermath of COVID-19