AUG 02 2023 Blog Procurement

The Magic of Smart Project Management

As a procurement leader, you know how important it is to nail your projects. But have you ever wondered why some projects soar while others crash and burn? Conrad Smith, a seasoned procurement expert and CEO of Graphite Connect, reveals five best practices to supercharge your procurement team’s project management capabilities and deliver significant outcomes.

In the late 90s, a project manager was brought in to assist when Smith was working on an Ariba implementation for Intel. “At first, it was driving me crazy,” says Smith. “I wanted to get started on the project, and here we were burning $300/hour for a couple of weeks just planning out the project! Communications, decision-making, and issue management. All things I thought were very straightforward. The hourly cost was giving me stress and anxiety.”

But the investment in a project manager and proper planning proved instrumental to the project’s success, not only for Conrad’s team but for procurement, IT, and Ariba as a whole. The experience was a valuable lesson that guided Conrad’s approach to subsequent projects, including his promotion to lead a mammoth 200-person SAP implementation project.

5 Best Practices for Procurement Project Management

By embracing these five best practices shared by Smith, your procurement team can enhance its project management capabilities, mitigate risks, and drive successful project outcomes.

  1. Thorough planning. Give planning the attention it deserves. Create a project plan that covers everything from objectives and timelines to resource requirements. Think of it as your trusty roadmap that’ll guide you through potential challenges and risks.

  2. Effective issue management. Issues are bound to pop up, but they don’t have to derail your project. Encourage your team to address issues head-on. Create a system to track and prioritize them, assign responsibilities, and monitor their resolution. This proactive approach will keep your project on track and help you avoid unnecessary delays.

  3. Transparent communication. Good communication is the key to a successful relationship, and your project is no different. Foster an environment where open and honest communication thrives. Establish a solid communication plan and keep everyone in the loop with regular updates on project progress, milestones, and any changes.

  4. Well-defined decision-making. Establish clear decision-making processes with defined roles and responsibilities within your team. Designate decision-makers for different aspects of the project. Create frameworks considering cost, quality, risk, and stakeholder impact. With a well-defined decision-making process, you’ll avoid confusion and keep things running smoothly.

  5. Success criteria. Embrace the mindset of continuous improvement. Take a step back and evaluate your project’s performance, both the ups and the downs. Conduct post-project reviews to identify areas where you can level up for future projects. Be open to adjustments and adapt your plans along the way. 

Gearing up for an important project? The Graphite platform is built to streamline procurement processes, empowering you to manage every aspect, from supplier onboarding to risk management and everything in between. Explore how we can support your project management needs and help you unlock new opportunities.

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