Clearly and Effectively Communicating Change

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SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Constance Bryant shares an honest account of how the change from a grassroots process to a more sophisticated tool for a Source-to-Contract process went for her and her organization. 

The hardest part of showing value to an organization is debunking the myth that the traditional role of Procurement is to procure goods and services. We must have practical E-sourcing tools that allow us to be efficient. This will enable the organization to truly understand how the role of Procurement is evolving and the importance of the terms and conditions put into place to mitigate risk for the stakeholder and the organization. And we must create policies and processes that provide the guidelines to regulate sourcing activities. Based on this revelation, we must clearly and effectively communicate change as it happens.

When I began working with my organization, we needed an E-sourcing tool to manage our process, identify the correct stakeholders, and provide timely updates. We also needed formalized procedures. And our policy needed to be more robust to provide clear guidance. It also lacked consequences for rogue procurement purchases. At that time, we managed our process through email and Excel spreadsheets. It could have been more effective, and the stakeholders demanded more transparency, a written procedure, and an E-sourcing solution.

The team obtained approval to purchase a solution. We then compiled our requirements, held technical calls, issued, and evaluated an RFI and RFP, and hosted demonstrations before purchasing Workday Strategic Sourcing, formerly ScoutRFP. The hope was to streamline the source-to-contract process. And we wanted to provide much-needed transparency and status updates for our stakeholders. However, we completed the implementation without a systematic approach that could deal with the change from the perspective of our stakeholders and the Procurement team. Cries of frustration and lack of faith were created in the transition to the new solution. 

All because change management was mentioned and pushed to the side. 

As a team, we were excited to have a tool to bring much-needed relief and support for our growing demands. But by not communicating our intent and vision, stakeholders did not see the benefits and rewards of having a new solution. They perceived it as a disruption to the current process, additional work added to their load, and had concerns that it would lengthen the process of receiving the good or service. We also had those accustomed to the old way and did not want to learn something new. 

We should have created an effective change management plan using the ADKAR Model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. 

Awareness: We should have taken the time to bring attention to the new solution. Communicated how it would allow stakeholders to quickly enter a request, identify the correct stakeholders, and view the status updates.

Desire: We should have decorated our area and provided small items of SWAG to get stakeholders excited about the change. This would have created a desire to use the new system.

Knowledge: We should have reiterated that we were making the change based on the feedback we had received internally and externally. And we should have held a couple of focus groups to show the new solution and solicited feedback on our new solution and processes. We also should have issued a revised procurement policy and created procedures aligned with the change. 

Ability: Although we held training sessions, we should have also held stakeholder process mapping sessions to streamline our process further and remove ambiguity. 

Reinforcement: We do not reinforce the change, which allows rogue procurement and some stakeholders to revert to the old ways. We also do not have a corrective action process to document non-compliance or consequences to prevent continued non-compliance. 

We still need to get a formal change management process in place. Therefore, as a team, we need help communicating any necessary changes. We focus more on the relationship with our stakeholders and pushing work out rather than communicating changes and the positive impact that these changes would have on streamlining the source-to-contract process. Not realizing that if we effectively communicate, we will have less resistance to change and obtain more stakeholder buy-in. 

The Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) Program is a 10-week course that focuses on the hard and soft skills of sourcing, including strategic sourcing and outsourcing methodologies, as well as best practices in negotiations.

Constance Bryant, Procurement Consultant, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

For over 15 years, Constance Bryant has been a critical contributor, leader, and mentor. While working as a Senior Nuclear Chemist, she found her passion for Sourcing and Procurement. She currently works as a Procurement Consultant at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry from Tuskegee University. As well as an MBA from Walden University. She is CSP and PMP certified. Outside of the office, she is committed to mentoring TN Achieves and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.