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Procurement Best Practices 6: Implement a Cross-Functional Approach


Procurement Management Best PracticesMany companies have found out that creative solutions to various problems can be solved by utilizing a cross-functional team approach. This type of team is normally created to address a specific business task or outcome that requires knowledgeable input from a cross-section of departments. The procurement management team can easily create a special task force group to handle purchasing decisions for a particular project. Individual teams from each division or unit can be set up and then come together when needed to work together on a common goal. A continuous team may also be created to tackle ongoing issues on a regular basis.

 In addition to purchasing, team members can come from areas such as distribution, marketing, manufacturing, sales, R&D, administration and technology. For instance, let’s assume that a company wishes to set up and implement a procurement management training program for employees and vendors. Since this is a company wide effort that requires cooperation among each department, a special cross-functional team or CFT is required to make sure it serves the needs of all departments. The procurement manager may also act as the team leader. Whoever the team leader is, they should carefully select one person from each area to serve as a representative. Keep in mind that team member selection is not an exact science. The hope is that the group will come together and work harmoniously to achieve the overall team goal.

 Some common items that a cross-functional team may consider:

  • Market Research

  • Product Design

  • Product Performance

  • Product Delivery

  • Supplier Selection

  • Supplier Training

  • Contracts and Warranties

  • Quality Assurance

  • Technology Upgrades 

Each CFT should work under a written charter that details to its members the overall team objective. This should include a mission statement, stated goals, the role of each team member, what type of authority the team holds regarding purchasing decisions and performance expectations. A timeline is optional depending on circumstances.

Ideally, you want team members who have proven functional skills, technical expertise in their field, creativity, an innate ability to communicate with others and share ideas, a willingness to listen to other points of view, and those who are not adverse to some risk taking. Stay away from selecting team members based on office politics as this isn’t going to produce the best team results. 

Cross-functional teams can only achieve their desired goals if they are given enough decision making power and company resources to make things happen. Upper management must be open to making changes according to team recommendations. A company can benefit in many ways by tapping into the power of individuals from various divisions working together to create a more agile, and financially beneficial, procurement process that can lead to a solid procurement managment plan. 

Related Posts:

Procurement Best Practices 5: Nurture a Culture of Improvement

Procurement Best Practices 4: Strategic Partnerships With Suppliers

Procurement Best Practices 2: Top Management Support Key to Success