5 Ways to Better Engage with Stakeholders

17 December 2020

5 Ways to Better Engage with Stakeholders

Procurement and strategic sourcing have certainly evolved over the last 20 years. Purchasing teams, once considered nonessential, are now a critical part of business operations. One of the primary problems that procurement teams frequently encounter involves stakeholder engagement. When communication between procurement and stakeholders is not consistent, it becomes difficult to align purchasing tasks with business goals.

Procurement teams are often challenged with getting the right level of stakeholder involvement and buy-in with their goals, making it difficult to align their objectives with the larger organization. McKinsey reports that “transformations are four times more likely to be successful when influential employees are involved.” Ultimately, if you want to build a passionate and successful procurement team, you need to understand how best to engage stakeholders. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession survey, “projects with high executive support were 40% more likely to be successful than those with low engagement.”

These five tips can help improve stakeholder engagement.

1. Communicate through regular touchpoints

Effective engagement requires consistent communication. That can be difficult with teams that are not accustomed to engaging with each other. In fact, 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy for their internal communications. Remember that building a relationship takes time, consistency, and shared dedication to the established goals. To get real buy-in, make sure you formalize the meetings and interactions. Set up regular touchpoints and make it a recurring meeting with all team members so that everyone stays informed and feels like they are part of the process.

According to Expert Market, “86% of corporate executives, educators, and employees cite ineffective communication and poor collaboration as reasons for failures in the workplace.” Develop an agenda so all team members know the discussion points. Use these meetings to address the progress that had been made, identify obstacles to advancement, and discuss any issues that arise. Having a consistent discussion around these topics aligns all stakeholders toward the same goals and allows teams to identify successes and shortcomings.

2. Create goals together

Developing goals together helps to clearly illustrate shared priorities and objectives. According to a recent Gartner study, only 20% of organizations involve teams in goal-setting activities. Co-creation of goals encourages stakeholder buy-in because they will have active involvement in the establishment of those objectives and visibility into critical tasks. If all team members have a shared dedication to goals, it becomes easier to meet those stated objectives and creates a team mindset. If people feel they are part of the process, especially in setting goals, they will work hard to ensure the team’s success.

3. Identify how the collective team will provide value.

Added value can take many forms. So often, businesses only pay attention to cost savings—focusing strictly on how different initiatives affect the bottom line. While cost savings is certainly a valid and top concern, teams can provide value far beyond savings. For example, are you streamlining process? Or are you mitigating and managing risk for the organization? You could also be enabling better tracking.. There is significant value that procurement teams can provide to businesses well beyond cost savings. Identifying those value drivers illustrates how procurement is contributing to the larger business.

4. Communicate joint successes with the business.

Nothing helps to create stakeholder engagement quite like shared successes. Seeing how teamwork can create success is key to getting stakeholders involved. Working together toward aligned goals helps to engender a team mindset and gives everyone a stake in the results. CMS Wire reports that 97% of employees “believe communication has an impact on tasks performed every day.” In communicating with the larger business, stakeholders are making their involvement visible. And, the old adage that success breeds success is true; the more that the organization hears about procurement successes, the more that people want to be part of the successful process.

5. Invest in the right tools.

Everything is made easier with the right tools. Having access to the right technology can make you more efficient and enhances communication with your stakeholders. Take the time to investigate the different technology options and choose the tools that offer the most benefits. A dedicated PPM tool is particularly helpful for providing visibility into project status to help enhance stakeholder engagement.

Good tools have high adoption rates and enable productivity. To help you identify which tool will work best for your team, identify any bottlenecks or obstacles. Then seek out tools that solve for those problems and allow for seamless communication. Building the business case for investment is easy when you have identified the obstacles that can be solved.

Ultimately, greater stakeholder engagement is good for the organization, as well as procurement. It allows for greater visibility and alignment of business goals to provide maximum value. And it establishes procurement as a valued-added partner to the business.