As a marketer or business developer in the AEC industry, you’ve no doubt spent your fair share of time dedicated to the procurement process. This deadline driven environment moves quickly, and oftentimes you’re moving onto the next pursuit without giving much thought to the process you’re following. Today, we’re chatting with Kathryn Bennett-Curtis, CPSM about improving the procurement process by finding efficiencies that will lead to a higher hit rate and a happier team.
April 13, 2016 episode of the Accidental Creative podcast, host Todd Henry states, “It’s easy for those rituals that we build into our lives to become ruts. It’s easy for our systems that are supposed to serve us to becomes things that we serve instead.”From the
Can you talk about a time where you’ve fallen into one of these ruts?
“Demonstrate proof that what you’re doing will provide value.”
I was just talking with a colleague about this! We get focused on organizing information in a certain way that is ritualistic – and we get stuck using systems that aren’t always the most efficient. Right now, I’m working to rethink how we organize information at my firm to make it most accessible.
What are some of the biggest time wasters in the procurement process?
The biggest problem I see is uncertainty, which can be very frustrating. Where and how do you find the information you need? What are the deadlines? What are the procurement goals? A lot of time can be wasted when these things are unclear.
So then how do you cut down on the uncertainty?
Technical professionals in our industry love processes and forms. And the more guidance you’re able to give will help in creating a better end product. For example – I’ve created project approach form that very clearly outlines the specific areas to address. Of course, step outside of the box on occasion, but at least you’ve got the key points required.
In essence, a marketing coordinator role is much like that of a project manager. How do you compare the two?
I find many more similarities than differences between operations and marketing, such as:
- Budget management
- Schedule management
- Resource allocation
- Internal and external stakeholder engagement
- Measurement and evaluation of efforts
When looking at your process, which tactics have you used to make it more efficient?
It’s all about procedure – which tends to go against the intuitive approach of most marketers. Infuse your creativity into your process. I focus on procedures and tracking. And I make that expectation known up front. It’s very important to make sure everyone understands their role and responsibilities with regards to the proposal process. One tip I’d suggest is to infuse your process into the system that the technical professionals are already using in their everyday role. I’ve adapted my proposal management system to use the same system they use for projects. Doing this removes the idea that marketing is the “other” — and reinforces that we are all on the same team.
What type of cultural push backs did you run into?
I want to know how much time and money is spent on each proposal effort before we can start evaluating evaluating, and that caused a lot of push back. It took a lot of persuasion for the executives to understand that marketing needs to be involved in the processes, and that there are financial elements of marketing that need to be measured. We owe it to our company to know that information.
How did you go about getting the buy-in to create these changes?
You must have a rationale for every single thing you do. Demonstrate proof that what you’re doing will provide value.
We’ve discussed the technical staff, but how can marketers be improving their efficacy?
I’ve really used the same approach for marketers that I have for technical professionals mentioned earlier. People benefit from and thrive on structure, no matter who they are. So by implementing any process that eliminates uncertainty, you’ll be more likely to have success in whichever population.
What does your proposal kickoff meeting look like?
We combine our go/no-go meeting with the strategy meeting (if it is a go). And the strategy meeting follows a two page form that I’ve created with lots of room for writing. We first identify all characteristics of the submission (due dates, and who is responsible for each part of the process), and then identify all concerns (market position, teaming, past performance)to identify a theme. After the strategy meeting, I send out the completed strategy form and action items list to everyone involved.
For someone who wants to make improvements in their process, where do you suggest they start?
The fact that you need rationale for every change should be your basis. Demonstrate there is a quantifiable problem, before making any changes. Gather as much information as you can to identify weaknesses, and then make the changes that will have the biggest bang for your buck.