Crises can best be resolved by working together — even in purchasing.

One piece of bad news follows the next. We find ourselves needing to react on all fronts to get a grip on the current difficulties. The heads of our purchasing departments have to stay effective during these challenging times. However, they won’t be able to succeed if they are left standing alone. They can only be effective if they work together with the team, the management, and the suppliers. | Andrii Yalanskyi

Some people are currently reminded of the 1970s when the specter of inflation had already haunted the economy triggered by the oil crisis. I also clearly remember when I used to go for walks with my parents on the autobahn on car-free Sundays. We are all aware that the current crisis has its effects, yet these are hitting harder in some places than initially expected.

Remain confident

Currently and in the recent past, many root causes of the crisis are linked to dysfunctional supply chains. The resulting impact is being reported in the press all over the world: shipping companies have mothballed ships and will not be able to get them and their crews back on the water any time soon. We all witnessed how a 250-meter long container ship again blocked the Suez Canal for days last September. We read about container shortages and that some countries are producing less due to high energy costs or local restrictions. Rising costs are also afflicting the economy everywhere. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, the import price index increased 29.6 points from 118.2 to 147.8 during the 12-month period ending September 30, 2022. The consumer price index, which was running at 7.5% in July 2022, rose to 10.4% in October according to preliminary figures. And when we consider that price increases are continuing to gather momentum and are impacting both the industry and private households, then we know that the crisis is universal.

We could go on and on for many pages with the list of reasons. Instead of emphasizing the issues, however, we would like to point out possible solutions. Foremost, it’s important to remain confident and to roll up our sleeves despite all the challenges.

Get started with a positive mindset

I am a firm believer that crises can only be overcome by working together. For instance, supplier relationships cultivated on an equal footing and at a personal level will withstand even difficult times. However, some purchasing managers are still trying to find solutions while hiding in the office. In my opinion, it’s important to move forward and work with the team and the suppliers to determine how to best proceed at this point.

When I face such challenges in my work as an interim manager, then my positive mindset helps me. In practice, it is my responsibility as a manager to provide orientation to the purchasing team. I quickly bring everyone in purchasing to a consensus with my positive approach, enthusiasm, and solution-oriented spirit.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

I also sometimes say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is where management in particular is called upon to act and set an example to motivate purchasers. And suppliers also need to be motivated so that we can move through the crisis together.

In summary, there are five points that help us stay empowered in the face of challenges:

  1. Maintain a positive mindset.
  2. Grab hold and don’t bury your head in the sand.
  3. Stop talking and start working.
  4. Seek orientation and pass it on.
  5. Find solutions together.

How are you handling the current challenges in your purchasing department? I am looking forward to learning about your interesting solutions. Let’s chat about this on LinkedIn or in a personal meeting.

For more on this and other subjects for sustainable purchasing strategies, listen to my podcast.

English translation by Nelly Thomas, LinkedIn: