Scanning through the results of our recent survey, we are seeing a lot of venting about purchasing departments being “too busy” and not having enough resources. Those same complaints have been part of purchasing at least as long as I’ve been in the field.

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Of course, if your department’s workload is growing, you should make an appeal to senior management for a proportionate increase in staff so that you can maintain the quality of your strategic work. But you better be prepared when you do.

You see, senior management usually doesn’t provide for staff increases on a whim. Adding headcount is an uncomfortable thing.

Among other things, they want to know:

1. What have you done to improve your productivity?

2. What non-value added things have you stopped doing?

3. What time management tools and techniques have you added?

4. What are the current and historical measurements of output-per-person and precisely how much additional work has been added to your team’s plate over time?

Senior management needs to separate chronic complainers from savvy business people who have truly exhausted all alternatives. So demonstrating the alternatives you’ve already tried (and the measurable improvements you’ve made) can give you a better shot at having an appropriately staffed purchasing department.

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