I recently spoke with a number of procurement representatives and event professionals from large corporations about how the two groups interact. For the sake of keeping to a reasonable length, the article didn’t cover everything I wanted to share.
The following tips are based on those conversations, plus my own personal experience.
1. Formally Define Your Processes
Do you have a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) in place with clearly defined policies and processes? Do you have an event request or intake form that other groups can use to request assistance with events? Is there a financial or other defined threshold (such as meetings with a certain number of sleeping rooms involved) at which purchasing must be brought in to assist with event procurement? Who are the right contacts for different divisions, business groups, departments or regions? How are suppliers selected? How much time is required for sourcing? Make sure you know the answers to all these questions.
2. Make Information Available and Accessible
Event and procurement information should be hosted in a place where all staff can easily access it and someone should be responsible for keeping the contents up to date. If there’s an old document living on a SharePoint site and nobody has looked at it in two or more years, it’s not helping anyone. Procurement processes should be well-documented, leaving little margin for error. There should also be a formal training process on any procedures and systems (such as Ariba or iProcurement) required to request purchase assistance or purchase order creation.
3. Share Future Plans
Before the end of each fiscal year, the events team should provide a calendar of planned events for the upcoming year and regularly update the information. Hold quarterly review meetings but also communicate on an ad hoc basis. The procurement team needs visibility into quantity, timing, size, location, budget and scope of work in order to divvy up the workload and identify any gaps. Obviously, this will not be comprehensive but it’s rare that you won’t have at least some plans for your largest events a year in advance.
4. Be Respectful
The event manager is the expert regarding event strategy and logistics as well as what services are needed. Likewise, the procurement representative has insight into global supplier relationships, negotiated discounts, risk and compliance issues, and the processes required for sourcing, electing, onboarding and paying vendors. Respect not just the people, but the processes involved – you don’t want to be the bad example by not having a signed scope of work or even worse, having to cancel a contract that was signed without legal review and subjecting the company to serious financial penalties. Working together combines your expertise to help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
5. Be Patient
Procurement needs to understand that it can be confusing for event marketers who don’t use the systems that often. Services are not always categorized in the way that a marketer would assume. All event team members should have some level of purchasing training and an open line of communications. Similarly, the event manager needs to be aware that the processes are in place for a reason and that oftentimes turnaround time is slow. Multiple approvals may be needed or there may be a backlog in the legal department. Getting your requests in early is the best way to get results within your ideal timeline. Both teams need to be patient with each other and willing to answer as many questions as it takes.
If you are interested in reading more about the relationship between events and procurement, including some real-world insights and comments from professionals in the field, you can find the original article here.
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