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The #1 Thing that Will Kill Your Procurement Compliance Effort

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You identified a compliance problem within your procurement process. You came up with a plan. You created PowerPoints and ROI spreadsheets worthy of an award. Your boss loved it. Now all you have to do is get everyone else on board. With a plan that makes such obvious sense, it should be a piece of cake, right?

And then comes that one meeting. You know the one. When you walked in thinking everyone would give you a high five for making life SO MUCH BETTER? What happened instead? Unless you’re the CEO or some other head honcho in the room, you most likely got put in your place for assuming you knew how everyone functioned.

This is why the #1 thing that will kill your compliance effort every time is not involving stakeholders from the beginning. Why the pushback?

1. Cumulative benefit doesn’t mean everyone does better

Let’s say your organization has a contract with a well-known office supply company to buy general office supplies. If everyone bought all of their office supplies off that contract, the organization would save $X per year. When viewed from this perspective, the cumulative compliance benefit is obvious.

But, let’s say you’re a sales rep who works remotely and needs to buy some extra binders once a year. Instead of purchasing them from wherever is convenient and submitting an expense, you’re now expected to remember the proper channels or take time out of your day to figure it out. If you feel like no one even considered, or cared, how life changes for you, you’re most likely going to push back.

2. Outside of procurement, end-user performance usually isn’t tied to compliance

Continuing the sales rep analogy, let’s say it’s the end of the year and time for your review. Over in procurement, management is looking at things like savings and spend on contract. But you? You’re being measured on whether or not you hit your quota. I’m pretty sure no sales rep ever has been told, “Great job hitting your quota! But let’s talk about these receipts you’ve submitted…”

 Related reading: How complicated spend management software sabotages compliance

3. People are unlikely to buy into compliance without personal benefit

If life doesn’t get easier, performance won’t be affected one way or the other, and if people already have a bad taste in their mouths because change was forced upon them, they’re unlikely to actually change. You haven’t given them a reason to.

The solution?

Give them a reason to…

How do you give them a reason to? The lynch pin is to get key stakeholders in the room from the beginning.  Does that mean every sales rep (or otherwise end-user)? Of course not. But everyone who is affected by the change should have a representative that can speak to their particular concerns. Doing so not only means that you’ll come up with a better solution that makes life easier for the majority, but – assuming you genuinely considered their input and communicated your reasoning (this last part is key) – those representatives will also feel ownership over getting their people on board.

The result? People who want to help you versus you forcing others to do what you want. Sounds pretty good to me.

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