Public procurement is an indispensable and crucial function that affects us all no matter who we are, where we live, or what we do.
How a central procurement office is given appropriate authority and operates affects the success of:
- Economic Health
- Social Programs
- Environmental Sustainability
- User Agencies
- Quality of Public Services
As public procurement officials, you know the value and necessity of your role and its impact on your state. It begs the question; how can our leaders recognize that procurement is a strategic entity at the highest level? Gaining a seat at the table starts by advocating: articulating your value, expanding your network, leveraging your professional association, and following up.
4 Ways to Advocate for Procurement
1. Articulate Your Value
Ever had trouble explaining what you do for a living? You are not alone. It can be tricky breaking down procurement and its benefits, but when people understand what it is and what you do, it allows them to see the value you bring. No matter your role, you can start by internally articulating your and your team’s value within your central procurement office by:
2. Expand Your Network of Influence
“Take a few moments to think about your core network and what role(s) they assume[,]” the quality of the relationships, and the benefits they offer. As a central procurement office, ask yourself, how building a robust network will help your office meet the strategic outcomes you want to see in procurement? It is essential to understand that growing the central office network to include more professionals within your industry or other user agencies can help your central office push its initiatives, gain support, and expand its influence.
To build your influence is to “build high-quality, reciprocal relationships with other people.” As you develop relationships and articulate the value of procurement, you create opportunities and expose others outside of your office to a greater understanding of how procurement is a strategic leader.
3. Leverage Your Professional Association
If you are a state public procurement professional, NASPO is your association and strategic partner for public procurement solutions. You can network in person by attending a conference through NASPO community boards. There are networking opportunities in professional development, too. Have you ever signed up for one of our instructor-led or self-paced courses through Procurement U or attended a NASPO webinar? Even if you are a non-state worker, you can take free Procurement U courses and access resources through NASPO’s content library to stay current and build your network.
Also, NASPO’s strategic partners offer great resources for your central office:
- National Association of Educational Procurement
- National Association of State Chief Administrators
- National Association of State Chief Information Officer
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- National Governors Association
These are all opportunities to engage and connect with other professionals that can help you grow your depth and breadth of knowledge on things like supplier and user agencies relations, cooperative contracts, bids, and other initiatives.
4. Follow up with your connections
To amplify your network, your team must develop consistent and frequent contact. As a central office, you don’t want to create superficial connections. Instead, you and your team want to build high-quality relationships. For instance, your office can start by developing better relationships with your user agencies by routinely connecting with at least one person in each user agency. This intentional and continued communication can produce a stronger bond which helps to anticipate user agency needs. In return, the central office will be able to provide responsive, strategic solutions and build value for the agency. Here are some tips to follow up with your connections:
- Connect on LinkedIn
- Create one-on-one interactions in person or a video call
- Set a specific time and date to speak
- Attend group events, conferences, and networking events