Sourcing Change Management

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SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Larry Trawick shares how excellent communication is vital in ensuring success and how important it is to incorporate effective change into your sourcing practices.


Given the global dynamics of the current marketplace, the speed of technological innovation, and access to information, rapid change on virtually every level is inevitable. As a result, companies and other organizations that depend upon the marketplace for their survival must change or quickly become obsolete. Because of the countless ways Sourcing as a discipline is integrated into the global marketplace, it also must support the need for change and offer methods to implement change as part of any overall Sourcing strategy effectively.
 
While change at the sourcing level can take on many forms, i.e., tools, processes, methods, etc., people have proven to be the most challenging resource to accept change. Our lesson guide for module 3.6 states that "paying attention to people and the people issues are a must for successful change ." This module provides solid strategies to address people's resistance to change and offers practical ways to mitigate resistance and drive the needed buy-in to overcome barriers to change.
 
One of the reasons people resist change is that they don't understand how they'll benefit from the planned changes. This suggests that if people could connect the change to themselves in some positive way, they would be more willing to contribute to the change process. The sourcing leader instituting the change would therefore be well-advised to help make this connection for those they have targeted to embrace the change. Another challenge to overcome is people's fear when they face change. People inherently are creatures of habit and find excellent security in developing and maintaining routines. Breaking those routines causes anxiety and, therefore, resistance to change.
 
Addressing those fears by familiarizing people with the change and answering their questions can chip away at them and foster a spirit of acceptance. To convey the change, a clear and compelling vision must be developed. This vision defines what the difference consists of, why it is necessary, and what the associated benefits are. Once the picture is set, it should be shared with all impacted parties to distill their concerns and promote the needed buy-in. As I noted above, this allows those impacted by the change to see how they will be affected and where they fit in. To implement the difference and make the vision a reality, the sourcing leader must develop a strategy for the planned change. According to the lesson, the process establishes the goals of the change and provides a plan to achieve those goals. Once the goals are set, the vision can be implemented.
 
Following the strategy, a management plan must be developed to gain approval from the stakeholder and executive levels. This plan can be viewed as a roadmap that defines the path from the current state to the intended future state. The primary purpose of this plan is to provide a compelling business case that justifies the support needed from executive leadership to carry out the change, i.e., approval, resources, funding, etc. The plan is based on the vision and strategy. Still, it goes further by showing why the change is warranted and the associated benefits, e.g., return on investment, process improvements, cost reduction, etc. In addition to justifying the needed change, the management plan also outlines various other vital elements essential to the transition's success, such as training, people development, program communications, and leadership engagement.
 
It is also crucial to identify program change champions when implementing the change. Ideally, these people are senior-level managers who understand the need for the difference. These people also have the power to influence the organization and to drive the initiatives to completion. Identifying skeptics is also essential so the sourcing leader can minimize the corrosive effect these people can have on others changing. Stakeholders are critical to the implementation stage as they represent the business and its various interests. Understanding their position concerning the change is essential so you can communicate any pertinent information affecting the company they represent. Developing a stakeholder matrix for this purpose would be beneficial.
 
Lastly, effective communication can determine the success or failure of your change process. Therefore, it is crucial to analyze the various communication vehicles you intend to deploy and integrate them into your management plan. A robust communications strategy is vital to the change process. This will ensure that the change process is well supported at every level and that all parties know how they fit in and what is expected of them.

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.

 

Larry Trawick, Senior Sourcing Analyst, Polaris Industries
Larry Trawick is a Senior Sourcing Analyst for Polaris Industries, where he provides sourcing support for the returnable packaging commodity segment. Larry earned his bachelor's degree and MBA from Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.
 
Larry got his start in Indirect Sourcing at Goodrich Aerospace Inc. (now Collins Aerospace), where he spent 15 years as a Commodity Manager. At Collins,  Larry managed the supply base for product packaging and provided sourcing support for multiple strategic business units. Larry later joined the Indirect Sourcing Team at Polaris in 2019 and managed the supply base for reusable steel crates to distribute on and off-road vehicles to North American dealers.
Larry is a native of Minneapolis and attended Roosevelt High School. He is married and recently celebrated his 37th anniversary with his wife Yvonne and has two children: Tiffany (Marketing Manager, Penumbra Theatre) and Taylor (Staff Sargent USAF). Larry holds a private pilot's license and serves on staff at his local church. He enjoys flying, travel, camping, jogging, boating, fishing, fast cars, and motorcycles.