In this current age of procurement reform and process improvement, it’s important to remember the procurement officer. These individuals are at the center of any reform measure.
Read on to find out what five traits all procurement officials should embrace in order to sustain the momentum of procurement reform.
- They Start with “Yes”
As one of my favorite procurement officers always tells me: “Procurement officers must stand in front of the Code, not behind it.” It’s true. The best procurement officers explore ways to use the procurement laws and regulations to the government’s advantage, while others look for ways to say no for fear of a protest. Starting with yes may require that a procurement officer challenge the norm. But if he can show how the project supports the program’s mission and follows the procurement code, he will have a solid justification.
- They Seek Information
Rather than operating in a vacuum, strategic-thinking procurement officers actively seek market information. A lot has been said about the need for better supplier communication. The federal government came out with the famous “Myth-Busting Memos” in 2009 and the “Acquisition 360 Memo” just last week. At the end of the day, those procurement pros that keep up with what is happening in the commercial market end up with better procurements.
- They View Suppliers as Strategic Partners
While procurement officers should always push for the best deal, the best officers understand it is not a unilateral proposition. An enlightened procurement pro goes into a negotiation acknowledging that a supplier brings unique knowledge about the product or service he or she provides. By treating suppliers as strategic partners, the net effect is a win-win relationship.
- They are Flexible
Good procurement officers know when to give a little lenience when working with suppliers. Sometimes a supplier misses a deadline or delivers the wrong product. It could be a mistake or delay that was outside of the supplier’s control. Or perhaps the supplier was misinformed. Regardless, rather than immediately claim default, these procurement professionals seek to understand before being heard. That way, the supplier and procurement officer can find a solution that works.
- They Value Transparency
Keeping suppliers up to speed on what is happening reduces supplier anxiety. Procurement pros take the time to explain the procurement process and provide information when asked. This even applies to solicitation development. Oftentimes, suppliers can alert a procurement officer to a defect in the scope of work that will prevent headaches later on.