Mapping your internal China negotiating stakeholders
I was recently working with a US purchasing team of a European MNC buying from China. Their brief was all about reducing costs and turn-around time, and I expected them to ask me about tactics and strategies for influencing their Chinese counterparts at factories and distributors. But instead, they wanted to know about how to clear bottlenecks and accelerate processing time – within their own organization.
Their frustrations were not with the Chinese suppliers (who they were learning to deal with) or with their direct reporting line (who felt they were in the same boat). They were being slowed down by departments not directly affected by supply chain process – like finance, legal and sometimes even HR. It seemed that every time there was a change in personnel or a new internal procedure, someone somewhere in the company had to learn about China for the first time. The bottlenecks weren’t killing them, but it was a delaying the supply chain process by a day here and half a day there – which really added up. When the purchasing managers had to go back to their Chinese counterparts with adjustments to deal terms or requests for information, it weakened their position and made them look disorganized – especially when the front-line negotiators didn’t know the people within their own company or why they needed to make changes or get new data.