Market Your Purchasing Successes with the Use of Storyboards

By Dr. Tom DePaoli

Purchasing professionals need to realize that they must not only market their purchasing strategies but their successes. Many purchasing professionals neglect to create a marketing plan for their organization. I use the term marketing plan synonymously with communication plan.

Some of the goals and techniques of your marketing-communication plan should be to educate top management on your strategic plans, publish results of supplier performance and surveys, publish internal customer survey results, educate personnel on purchasing and supply chain principles, emails, hold roundtables, hold town meetings, use social media, utilize newsletters, use a supply chain specific web page, monthly letters, and announcement of successes.

Storyboards are a great way to market your successes. Storyboards require you to be disciplined in your message and fully understand your results and assertions. You must limit your words and concentrate on the essentials. Thus you must communicate explicitly and right to the point for your audience. You need to strip away the technical argot and make sure the audience can easily grasp what you have accomplished, even with a very limited knowledge of purchasing.

Storyboards should adhere to a lean principle of visibility. Storyboards must be understood quickly with the maximum use of graphics, not words, spreadsheets or numbers. This is not an easy task, as a consultant we would often spent hours and days trying to accomplish this with a storyboard. Obviously purchasing often does not have the talent (full-time illustrator) or resources to do this meticulously, but this is intended to be a guide.

There is no one catch-all formula or template for storyboards. Often how you employ them and your particular style depends on the culture and communication norms of your organization. The important aspect is to make sure that you communicate your successes in a manner that can be readily understood by both purchasing and non-purchasing personnel. Think of storyboards as intelligent commercials that must be brief, easily remembered and upbeat.

I have provided  that we used to communicate a purchase order success story. The organization that it was used in was very heavily into Lean Six Sigma, Kaizens and the DMAIC methodology (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control). We used this familiar DMAIC format to help people understand and follow what we did. It still has too many words and numbers but we needed to ensure people realized the scope of what we had accomplished. The storyboard was well received and readily understood by employees. I highly recommend purchasing and supply chain professionals consider using storyboards to communicate your successes.

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