9 Tips to Get the Right Data for Your Procurement Business Case

Procurement is constantly changing and evolving. Consequently, your department may be faced with new demands, shifting priorities, budget cuts and the continuous challenge to do more with less. Innovative procurement methods and technologies can streamline processes, maximize resources and improve efficiency – but altering your organization’s culture can be challenging. Many are reluctant to change. In order to get leadership’s buy-in, you need to show them you’re thinking strategically about the future.

Illustrating your strategic thinking will require data. The challenge then becomes how to choose the right data and how to best utilize it to get your message across.

You don’t want your stakeholders to walk out of this initial meeting with more questions than they had walking in. Anticipate their questions and be ready to answer them with the “right” data. You’ll need to know your audience, gather credible information and become a convincing storyteller. When developing your business case, follow these tips from industry professionals to help maximize data and ensure you gain approval.

1. Alignment is key.

Make sure to align your proposal with your organization’s objectives, goals, mission and/or strategy. Your story should lead stakeholders to agree with your solution and conclusions because they see how it advances their wider agenda. Provide context to the data and frame it strategically around broader organizational goals.

“The first thing we did was to bring in our key stakeholders. We went to all 27 county department heads and presented them with our idea of how we could save them money and respond more efficiently and quickly to their project needs. We sat down with them and focused on their needs, asking them to identify their top issues.”

Michael Derr – Contracts and Purchasing Officer for the County of Monterey, CA

 

2. Use credible sources.

Your data must be dependable. One of the best places to get information is from end-users. Gather input from those who will be most affected by the results of your project to make sure their concerns are addressed up front.

Using real experiences and examples often helps leaders see your business case in action. Case studies and reliable references provide examples for best practices and lessons learned.

“Data is key. Cultural shift is more likely to happen when good, valid, credible data is presented in a business case supporting an opportunity.”

Doreen Murner – Former Chief Executive Officer at National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP)

 

3. Tell a story.

The business case is really a story supported by facts and details. You don’t have to be telling a good story is critical to receiving buy-in. While you need to build a clear and concise, data-backed narrative that answers key questions, don’t rely on a single data point to support your conclusions.

The key questions to answer include:

  • What is your business problem or opportunity?
  • How do you plan to solve the problem or maximize the opportunity?
  • What are the benefits, risks and costs involved with your solution?
  • What is the timeline, including the impact on daily operations?
  • Finally, what is the organizational capability to deliver the ideal results, including any request for additional resources

4. Show your methodology.

Some stakeholders will not be content to just take your word for it. Be prepared to back up your conclusions with accurate data and information. Be prepared with extra copies of sources to share.

5. Rethink and reframe.

Be creative and innovative. If something isn’t working using traditional methods and processes, look at the problem and solution from a different point of view.

“Back in 2012, Monterey County sought an alternative method to expedite construction and repairs…We had data. We went back and did a full analysis of past projects, timelines involved and costs to move them from cradle to grave. Then we identified other projects that were done by other entities already using Job Order Contracting and calculated the potential savings for Monterey County.”

Michael Derr – Contracts and Purchasing Officer for the County of Monterey, CA

 

6. Teach.

Illustrate a problem leadership may not be aware of, as well as how the proposed solution will solve it. In the classroom, instructors must speak the language of their students to get them to understand their lessons. This is also true for the boardroom.

Moving beyond technical jargon is a good way to improve communication with leadership. By using language that speaks directly to your audiences’ concerns, you earn the attention needed to make your case. The use of shared terminology helps frame your supporting data with a narrative that speaks directly to organizational goals.

“Times are changing; we’ve got better data and better technology. Some of the old traditional procurement methods are frankly a thing of the past. There are new and better ways to do things. If you are excited and see an opportunity to do something different within your organization, use associations like NAEP or others out there to help educate your key stakeholders.”

Matt Peterson – Development and Implementation, National Cooperative Accounts at Gordian

7. Know when enough is enough.

Do not overwhelm leadership with data. Focus on and highlight the key facts and figures that support your story. Sometimes, less is more.

8. Keep objections in mind when gathering your data.

There will be naysayers. Some may say, “It’s too difficult.” Others may say, “But, we’ve always done it that way!” Be ready to roll up your sleeves and overcome objections. When you run into resistance to change, you’ll need to show them data and information to prove that there is a better way.

If leadership’s perception is different than reality, put reality square in their faces. When respectfully faced with a solution that aligns with the overall strategy and is supported by credible data, your stakeholders will be more willing to accept your business case.

“Doing your due diligence and pulling together appropriate data points for your business case up front can help eliminate or minimize fire drills.”

Mike Smith – Vice President at Government Sourcing Solutions

 

9. Emphasize the danger of the status quo. Demonstrate the consequences if you DON’T move forward.

It can be necessary to show the grim future where your proposal is postponed or, even worse, rejected. Use examples of how the solution will mitigate risks now and later.

“We were able to save the county $3.5 million in the first two years, just by switching to the JOC program… Be ready to improve the program. Don’t get complacent and don’t get comfortable with the status quo.“

Michael Derr – Contracts and Purchasing Officer for the County of Monterey, CA

Facilities Planning Meeting

Leadership is dedicated to ensuring the organization is financially sound; that’s their job. To truly meet this goal, they need a focused procurement department. Procurement leaders have an opportunity to shift the department’s focus beyond purchasing to supporting organizational growth and viability. By providing context to your organization’s problems and focusing on solutions, the right data can fuel strategic procurement conversations. You’ll be able to make your business case and truly change the conversation around procurement within your organization.

Watch this on demand webinar, “Change Management: Convincing Management to Adopt Alternative Procurement,” for practical steps about creating a convincing case for management from people who have done it successfully.