Posted By NAEP,
Monday, April 11, 2016
Lisa Deal, C. P. M.
University of Florida
NAEP President 2015-2016
Buyers and Chief Procurement Officers all manage people. You may be thinking, “Nope, I don’t supervise anyone,” or you may already agree that I’m correct. In my experience, the key to successful purchasing is to manage relationships with people. We often find ourselves translating vendor- or procurement-speak and culture into University speak and culture. I happen to supervise folks but even when I didn’t, I figured out some key tools I needed to do well at my job. Here’s my list: crystal ball, witch hat, magic wand, riding crop and pom-poms. I have almost all of those tools in my office (I leave the riding crop at home). Here’s how I use them (metaphorically).
- Crystal Ball: We always need to look into the future to think about what’s coming next. Think about the next step in the solicitation, or after negotiating a contract how it will be implemented, or how to improve the contract next time.
- Witch Hat: It’s not really fair but sometimes when I have to hold people (suppliers, colleagues, my boss—even customers) accountable, I say “My witch hat is on,” so folks know I need to be tough.
- Magic Wand: Ok, so mine makes noise and lights up and can’t really perform magic, but sometimes I wish it did. Since I can’t use it for magic, I remember that I can poke people with it, meaning remind them what needs to happen. Are contract milestones being met? Has someone forgotten to provide data? Missed a deadline?
- Riding Crop: This one may be self-explanatory—it’s the witch hat and wand (poke) taken to a higher level. I have never had to use it, but folks know I have it (at home).
- Pom-poms: Celebrate the success, even when it’s small. When the customer provides a solid specification, or a colleague helps you, when you learn how to do something new or reach a milestone in a large project—celebrate (we ring a bell in our office, we also have a Happy Board).
I hope these tools don’t sound too silly. We try to have fun in our office and use the metaphors to help us get through the daily challenges of procurement—but yes, I really do have pom-poms in my office. I hope you find these tools helpful. Feel free to share what you use, or borrow mine. Looking forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting in San Antonio. (Should I replace the riding crop with spurs?)
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