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Certification Quagmire!

The certification alphabet soup is not a myth.  The daunting task of identifying the right certification and completing the process can be a quagmire for most companies.  In order to be successful in obtaining small and diverse business certifications, you must be prepared to research and clearly identify the client you are targeting.  You see, not all certifications will be right for you and then you may need multiple designations to even participate in bidding opportunities.

FOR MORE ON CERTIFICATION CLICK HERE!

With over 17 years of experience in supplier diversity and certification programs, Lengo is ready to help you by taking the burden of filling out paperwork off your hands so you can focus on your business.

Contact us at http://www.lengo.us and schedule your appointment today!

 

 

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Power in Female Negotiation

When you reach the ranks of decision making in the company, the congratulatory advice starts to flow. You find yourself excited about the new opportunity to flex your experience and knowledge all the while, unsure of your ability to make the tough and right decisions. You can find tips and lists on being the best negotiator or executive decision maker, however,Negotiating-your-way-to-financial-success the power of negotiation for everyone is different.

I recently received what I would consider a lateral move to a position that offered sourcing and contract opportunities. Don’t get me wrong I was happy to take the risk, because like anything you learn from every move in your life. Good, bad or indifferent! I have negotiated contracts in my former positions and knew that I had a “style”. Yes, I had developed a style of negotiation and overall business tactic that was clever and compassionate and best yet, it worked for me!

Wait, did I just say compassionate? Yes, I did and for a woman in a heavily male-dominated department, company and industry that could damage my reputation or legitimacy, right? Wrong! The power of compassionate negotiation is never a bad thing.

Whoever came up with this ridiculous sentiment couldn’t have been a woman! What’s even crazier is that when a man gets upset or frustrated during a negotiation, his competence is never questioned. There are plenty of articles out there that support the positive impact of compassion on the business and one that I enjoy is written by Amy Rees Anderson in Forbes. She conveys the importance that one show of compassion can ripple positively throughout the entire organization, so imagine if the whole organization made an initial ripple.

So, back to my style of clever and compassionate negotiation. If I could leave you with three simple reminders, they would be:

Reflect

I always remind myself right before a meeting or negotiation about the “who”, “what” and “why” of this interaction. This helps me realign myself with my intended outcome. It also helps to center my thoughts and refreshes my memory about the person or people involved in this negotiation. You see, each decision made by a negotiator has a direct impact on their company and the other parties involved. These companies are comprised of people that are trying to make a living just like me, so my impression on their lives is direct regardless of the negotiated terms.

Empower

Remembering that I am great at what I do and I can rock anything I put my mind to, is key to this principle. As women, we are tremendous at supporting each other but, when it comes to ourselves we fall short. We forget to give ourselves the old pep talk and spark that fire deep within. Anytime I am walking into a negotiation I empower myself to represent the best part of me in full unfettered form! I can’t tell you how many times, my colleagues and management have asked me how I get people to do what I ask without any complaints or pushback. I just simply respond, clever compassion!

Remember

I choose to always remember how my decisions have affected others. I always remember how exposed the other parties must feel, especially smaller firms when they are meeting with large corporations to negotiate terms.  I consider their lack of resources that put them at a disadvantage. So making sure that I have presented my best case, alleviating senseless and costly legal contract reviews, utilizing resources to extend conversation and negotiation prior to final legal review, and being mindful of the end goal and overall contract value, are ways that I can remember the true intent of the negotiation and my impact on the whole process.

This is such a taboo topic especially when women in the workplace are in roles of decision making and power. To show the slightest inkling of compassion or “feelings” is for some reason a scarlet letter across the chest.  It becomes a form of weakness instead of power and astuteness.  It suddenly denies women the ability to be their authentic selves and resort to adopting methods and characteristics that are foreign and uncomfortable for them.  Let’s remove the stigma from having a heart in the boardroom and start promoting negotiation that represents a positive exchange of opportunity for all parties involved.

Supplier Diversity Adversity

The world of Supplier Diversity is filled with a myriad of elements that can skew the true intention of the program. According to CVM Solutions, “It emphasizes the creation of a diverse supply chain that works to secure the inclusion of diverse groups in the procurement plans for government, not-for-profits and private industry.” Now, I completely agree with this statement and the importance of supplier diversity programs in every organization. The utilization of processes that encourage and actively seek small and diverse suppliers is more than just doing “what’s right”, but it is truly about doing what is required.
However, throughout my career, I have seen the emphasis of many programs dissent from impact and resource to “bodies in seats” themed events. Let me explain, in this industry, there are firms that win contracts to be the “Supplier Diversity Consultant” or “DMWBE Program Manager” when in actuality their focus is more aligned with marketing strategists or PR firms. So their talents lie in drawing people to events through creative marketing. This is great for owners who prioritize quantity over quality. But, for the small and diverse businesses attending events with no ROI or better yet the chance of an opportunity, is the point at which supplier diversity meets adversity.
This is the point of no return that the supplier diversity industry is facing if the focus of the programming does not redefine the compliance in opportunities achieved. If there are not “real numbers” behind the effectiveness of the numerous outreach events or the charged up project kickoff networkers, then what is the true value? I will say that professionals in this industry meet a two-edged sword because the quantity has become the nucleus for success.
So how do we get back to the significance of the program? We get back to the intent of the program by getting back to the fundamental principles of supplier diversity.

Opportunity Generation
The innovative methods of creating contracting opportunities for small and diverse suppliers that establish a synergy for future growth. Removing barriers is the key to this principle. As owners of contracting opportunities, there is an onus probandi to remove barriers of entry to small and diverse businesses. These barriers can be as odious as convoluted contract terms or inadequate procurement processes.

Measured Success through Substantive Data
True compliance is based on factual data and is the only true measure of success for these programs. Now back to the “Bodies in Seats” reference, measuring the success of an event is not the number of attendees. Rather it is the outcome of their attendance at the event. How many actively bid on solicitations, following the event? How many win contracts? How many successfully complete the work and are awarded more work? These are measurements of success with substantive data.

Capacity Building
Yes, the biggie in the industry, with construction and infrastructure improvements at an all-time high, the capacity for small and diverse businesses to capitalize on the opportunities is of most importance to all project owners. Honestly, capacity building is a difficult facet of supplier diversity programs because, without the creation of training, education and mentor-protégé programs most small and diverse businesses don’t stand a chance at being able to improve their internal processes and ability to bid and secure work with higher bonding and insurance limits. However, it is still the responsibility of the owner to either directly provide these forums for coaching and cultivation or seek out strategic partners with the programming in place. Additionally, owners have to recognize the capacity of the small and diverse businesses and create methods that effectively allow them the opportunity to successfully win contracts.

Pragmatic Partnership Development
The development of partnerships that make sense and work, is essential to the supplier diversity program. Partnerships with associations, advocacy groups, and organizations that promote the qualities and missions that encourage real supplier diversity and not adversity. Partnerships are plentiful and in my experience, many partners are willing to tailor programming to meet the needs of their corporate sponsors and supporters. The investment is minimal compared to the return as well as possessing another layer of authoritative program impact.

The adversity to Supplier Diversity has always been prevalent, in fact, there are organizations and politicians that do not support diversity in any form. The only way that adversity does not take hold and reshape a program, that is meant to be more than a handout or easy contract, is to reinforce the purpose of the program and get back to the basics. Real programming for real change!

Sheena Morgan is the owner of Lengo a business consultancy suite specializing in competitive business development and business asset creation. She is a 20-year veteran of the Supplier Diversity industry and staunch advocate of small & minority business entrepreneurs.

Strategic Plan Building Blocks!

Slide1 Strategic planning is quite easy if you have a model to follow.  The problem most entrepreneurs have is determining which model is right for them.  Depending on the type of strategy you are seeking to develop, the industry of your business, the necessity or urgency of the plan, and the resources available to complete a thorough plan – one can become overwhelmed with selecting a simple, yet comprehensive model.

The model above provides some practical building blocks that are also required for stringent audit in the development of a business plan.

Purpose

Exactly what is the ‘why’ for the business or plan?  What type of problem are you trying to solve?  Who is going to be impacted by the plan?  What benefit does this bring to the overall operations of your organization?  Before you can even think about the plan, a well-thought-out purpose needs to be developed.

Vision

Most would think that this only applies to the corporate vision…nope, even with strategic plans, there should be a vision or goal.  Without a vision, you cannot align your plan and developmental steps to achieve the desired success or outcome. Also, a good thing to remember is that your vision can (and most likely) will change once you develop the remaining steps of this plan.  Guess what…it’s okay!

Market Analysis

Yep, you won’t get away without some sort of data analysis.  But, one thing that I always stress to entrepreneurs is that you need to understand your market.  Without a clear understanding of the external factors that can affect your business and future plans you are developing, you are in essence setting yourself up for failure.  Also, you could be missing out on a great opportunity to capitalize on an untapped segment of the market.

SWOT

Everyone knows what a SWOT analysis is and you should complete one.  You can’t however, complete this before you conduct a market analysis and better yet any other step prior.  A strong SWOT analysis requires a clear understanding of both internal and external factors as well as market opportunities.

Action Plans

Now you’re thinking, the fun has begun…actually this will probably be the most arduous part of development.  At this point, the action plans are the steps that you will lay out for each stakeholder, department, key personnel and employee to attain your overall goal.  This will require coordinated meetings and design sessions to make sure that all touchpoints are included and current processes/procedures are incorporated for maximum results. If you are a startup, then you just caught a break because you can start from scratch.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

The one step that is almost always left off when strategies are developed.  Setting milestones and targets is essential for continued monitoring and adjustment.  Even though the plan on paper may look great, once it is put into action, there are so many factors that will alter the expected results.  Without metrics to determine if realignment is required or a complete halt of the process, you can keep a plan in place that is detrimental to the organization.

So there you have it, an easy way to start developing your strategic plans…right?  Well, I would think so and I have used this with my own company and clients.  If you are struggling to make it through, seek some help.  At any stage of your business operations, strategic plans should always be incorporated and remain fluid to change with the flow of your business and the markets!

Sheena Morgan is the owner of LENGO a business consultancy suite specializing in business asset development and competitive market plan design.  http://www.lengo.us 

VENDOR ENGAGEMENT

You’ve identified a prospective group of vendors or suppliers that could present great growth opportunities for your business. Yet, you are struggling with how to engage them in a manner that will yield the needed buy-in and results you desire. Vendor engagement can make or break future partnerships and keep your business in a place of stagnation, if not conducted with attainable intentions and goals.

There are four main “partner” groups that vendors and suppliers will fall within. Adequately, organizing your prospective partners in the correct group will allow the development of successful and purposefully engagement campaigns.

Two groups that present a strategic value to your company are Aligned and Transactional Partners.  Additionally, if you are seeking growth potential, then Transactional and Supplementary Partners will be of most benefit.  However, your mix of prospective vendors may present benefits in both areas on various spectrums.

To begin the process of strategically aligning your vendors and identifying the proper type of engagement, to benefit the future growth of your company, contact Lengo and let us help you focus your vision!