4 Approaches to Building Buy-in with Executive Leaders

CoProcure hosted a conversation on how to be an agent of change within your agency. Panelists from innovative agencies told us all about how they advocated for changes to their procurement code, resulting in more permissive cooperative contracting – saving their agencies time, money, and effort. Featured panelists:

  • Lourdes Coss, former Chief Procurement Officer, Cook County, IL & City of Houston, TX
  • Darren Muci, retired Division Director of Operations, Wichita Public Schools
  • Chris Schroeder, Purchasing Agent, City of Milpitas, CA
  • Moderated by: Becca Blazak, Partnerships & Community, CoProcure

The top benefits of cooperative purchasing to a procurement team are to save time and create efficiencies. But there are other benefits that are compelling to other stakeholders, including to:

  • Increase regional collaboration
  • Increase purchasing power to achieve volume discounts
  • Reduce duplicative spending and save money
  • Support local and diverse businesses

An important first step to making changes at your agency is to understand what your key stakeholders care about most, and focus on that in your pitch. Once you've identified what your key stakeholders are motivated by, consider the following approaches.

1. Analyze your spending

See what you’re spending your time and money on to identify challenges and opportunities. Lourdes shared how analyzing spending at Cook County found that they were spending 80% of their time on less than 20% of their spend. Upon further digging, her team realized that there was an opportunity to use cooperative contracts to buy from suppliers they were already sourcing from. She brought this data and analysis to executive stakeholders and was able to make a clear argument in favor of using cooperative contracts.

2. Start Small

Focus on a single commodity as a test case, and gradually build buy-in over time. Darren’s school district was already a huge purchaser of furniture, so his team saw an opportunity for mutual benefit: become the lead agency on a furniture contract. This allowed the other 286 school districts in Kansas to use the contract and benefit from bulk pricing, and his school district earned revenue through an administrative fee. This success helped support an eventual change to the state procurement code.

3. Engage non-executive stakeholders

Find support from non-executive stakeholders and build a groundswell of excitement. Chris talked about how he’s been able to delight end users with cooperative procurement. A city agency came to him with a request for tires. Instead of soliciting this commodity over months, he was able to tell the end user they would get it much quicker due to an already-existing cooperative contract. Delighting end users and educating them on cooperative procurement can help embed a practice of cooperative procurement throughout your agency.

4. Don’t reinvent the wheel

Leverage the work of other agencies to inform your own process. When the City of Milpitas updated its code, they looked at different codes from surrounding cities and cherry-picked to build an updated clause that best served their purposes. With their new (and improved) “public agency clause,” purchasers simply have to determine whether the agency they’re working with is a public agency and whether they made that purchase using competitive procedures - which includes co-ops.

Our panelists shared the current cooperative language they contributed to from Cook County, State of Kansas, and Milpitas.

About CoProcure

Cooperative procurement helps many public agencies save time and money, allowing them to work more efficiently. CoProcure is a free resource that helps public procurement professionals find cooperative and piggybackable contracts from sources including national purchasing cooperatives like OMNIA Partners, Sourcewell, NASPO ValuePoint, and more, plus state and local entities.

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  • Start finding cooperative contracts via our free search tool at coprocure.us.
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