Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management? Consulting REMOTELY

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Again, before I start, please know that The Mpower Group has all our readers in our hearts and prayers as we all get through this very difficult time.

We have often talked about one of the roles of a Procurement professional is an Internal Consultant.  While most of us are operating under a new “normal” we, at The Mpower Group have been doing remote consulting for quite some time.  Some we did purposefully, some happened quite by accident.  Let me explain. 

We offer many different services – some require face-to-face interaction, either live or virtual and others do not.  We have many long-standing clients who are quite comfortable with us doing our work remotely.  It saves them from paying us to travel to their sites and it gives our consultants more time to do “real” work.  Any work that requires data gathering or analysis (reviewing documents, doing research, even writing an RFP) does not require “live” interaction.  Those activities that do require client interaction  like holding status meetings, doing interviews, conducting brainstorming sessions can all be done via conference call or using virtual meeting technology.  We recommend the latter because having that visual experience is critical.  We also have a number of global clients so physically getting together does not always make sense, so we have had solutions in place for quite some time.  We have also coached Sourcing teams virtually for clients where our coach interacted virtually with the whole team and even suppliers where necessary – it can be done!

The “accident” happened well over a year ago when we were in the Midwest with a client doing Instructor Led training in November.  It was Day 3 of a three-day training session when a huge snowstorm hit.  About 1/3 of the class could not physically make it to the session and the client asked us to either cancel and come back OR draw in the 1/3 who were homebound into the session – sound familiar 😊!  We literally had about 30 minutes to use the client’s technology (some random version of Zoom / Gotomeeting)     to make the live session work for those in the classroom and those that were not – it worked.  Were there glitches?  Of course – probably the same ones you are experiencing right now.  But the feedback we received from the remote team was very positive, so we turned that into a new offering where we now have virtual training delivered from our technology savvy studio.  What is the old saying, “”necessity is the motherhood of invention” – who knew?

For most of you, your “normal” is to travel to your office, meet with your colleagues at their desks or in a conference room or at lunch or for happy hour.  The social interaction is critical in connecting with people and building relationships, your colleagues, internal business partners and your suppliers.  This new normal has shown us that there are new ways using technology and creativity to stay in touch and even “consult”.  Consider doing the following:

  • Keep building relationships by setting up regular virtual video meetings
  • Decide which work requires social interaction and which does not – keep the non-social work moving and find solutions to accomplish social interaction virtually
  • Look at all your Sourcing initiatives that are in-flight and put a plan together to keep those moving

These are very stressful times for us all and this lockdown may last longer than we think.  The more we can replicate “business as usual” and keep productive, the better off our companies will be and us personally.  

This too shall pass so let’s all stay safe and connected so that we come out on the other side better than ever 😊!

Please stay safe everyone!  Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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