Why should you include change management in your company’s procurement function?

Change management procurement function
April 13th, 2023
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In the face of global economic, political, and financial instability, companies clearly have no choice but to constantly adapt. Their competitiveness and, in the long term, their survival is at stake. Change must be integrated into the way each company operates as well as its corporate culture. The procurement function takes the lead in this and plays a critical role in both transformation projects and change management. As a matter of fact, according to a recent study by GEP, change management and process integration are a major challenge for 39% of procurement managers!

What is change management?

Change management is a set of effective processes enabling companies to deal with negative external factors that may impact their business. The idea behind it is that every company should be able to constantly adapt to its environment, with the aim of improving its performance. Change management, by definition, involves supporting a transformation process.

Change management is based on four main principles: Support, communication, coordination, and timing.

Getting the support of stakeholders

The key to successful change management is to explain the upcoming new structuring to stakeholders in an educational way to ensure they understand and follow all the steps.

As well as providing them with all the necessary information, it is also important to demonstrate the reasons for the action plan and the related benefits in order to underline its merits.

Increasing communication

Removing potential obstacles and employee resistance to change requires regular and appropriate communication.

Companies can achieve this by using the project’s "ambassadors" or an interim manager, highlighting the first positive results, arranging discussion sessions, etc.

Coordinating the teams

With change management and the implementation of new initiatives, it is important to set up cross-functional teams and to give local managers the role of a relay between all the stakeholders.

Managing the timing well

Although change management is not just about project management, it is important to organise the tasks and make sure they get carried out based on a precise schedule. Meeting commitments sends a positive message to stakeholders.

Procurement at the core of change management

By definition, the procurement function is at the core of the business ecosystem. It is at the crossroads between the suppliers and the internal customers. With its strategic dimension, it is also aligned with the company’s global strategy and helps defend its competitiveness. It is therefore in a top position to take part in change management.

And there are a lot of examples of this. The procurement departments can implement an e-procurement solution as part of their company’s digital transformation. They can contribute to the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy by deploying a sustainable procurement policy. If the objective is to improve operational efficiency, they can structure their long tail spend or implement a Lean Procurement approach.

All these projects have one thing in common: They require change management to achieve success. As mentioned in the introduction, 39% of procurement managers consider change management and process integration to be a major challenge. This means procurement teams must put on their "change manager" hat and become even more agile.

Adapting to the change curve

To support change effectively, you must consider and fully understand how the teams feel. For this, you can use the 5 stages of grief model, which was created by Dr Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist.

This concept has been adopted by many experts in corporate change. It describes the five main stages that individuals need to go through before they can fully accept a change. This applies to all kinds of personal and professional events, whatever their nature, be it organisational, hierarchical, cultural, or geographical changes, etc.

For management, the change curve is a necessary process that enables you to get prepared. Any manager who wishes to effectively guide their team through the change management process must be a master in the different stages of change themselves.

Shock or denial

Following the announcement of a change within the company, employees may be in a state of shock if they are not prepared for it. They may find it difficult to control their emotions, see the reasons for it or simply to react. Some will even refuse to acknowledge the situation. Understanding and patience are needed at this point.

Anger or fear

As they move to the second stage, employees become fully aware of the situation, which may lead to a strong emotional reaction, such as fear or anger, for example. They start asking questions, rebelling, and wanting to express themselves. It is then a matter of welcoming these emotions, without trying to reason them out, by making time for discussion.

Sadness or depression

When employees realise that change is well and truly underway, they may become nostalgic or even apprehensive. They enter a period of profound questioning when benevolence is very much required. This is the final, so-called negative stage of the process.

The search for meaningfulness, the acceptance of change

At this stage, employees begin to look to the future. They examine the new situation and try to adapt to it. It is essential that the company reminds them of the benefits of change and offers them training and learning resources.

Peace of mind

The employees have now integrated the change. They usually emerge from this final stage feeling stronger and more motivated, which is reflected in their work. To maintain this state of mind, it is important to recognise their efforts and to highlight the skills they have acquired or the objectives they have achieved throughout this transition period.

As shown in this article, people are central to change management. Any transformation project depends on the men and women who are going to experience these updated processes, tools, and kinds of structuring on a daily basis. Using the appropriate support, you can overcome their resistance to change and make this new structuring a success.



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