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SOAR #11 - Driving Compliance

Back in August 2020, I posted a blog about SOAR stories. SOAR stories are a fantastic way to reflect on Situations that seemed challenging at the time because of certain Obstacles. In order to succeed, you took Action and the Result was something you can be proud of, and which contributed to who you are today. It built character.

You many think that these stories mean nothing. After all, they are just stories. However, ALL stories have a meaning; ALL stories disclose something about the characters in them. The character-traits are what keep people interested and yearning for more.

The story is only one part of what makes doing this exercise valuable. The more important part is rediscovering who you are at your core and what attributes distinguish you from others when faced with challenges.

I'd like to continue sharing some of my personal SOAR stories and the characteristics that they exhibit.

What are some of your SOAR stories? If you can't see your inner #basass, we can work together to rediscover it! I'd love to hear them and publish them on this blog!


At one point in my professional career, I managed a team of 10 contingent staff resources who were supporting a 3,000 person organization with procurement operations and order- entry of work-for-hire engagements (professional & engineering services) and software purchases. On behalf of project owners, the tasks included Statement-Of-Work (SOW) creation, opening Purchase Orders (POs), and managing invoices. It was a "Buy Desk".

The challenge: the contingent staff did not have the knowledge of the business needs nor the deliverables and would open POs at the direction of the project owners, directly into a non-centralized/business-group-autonomous ordering system without proper documentation. If Statements of Work (SOWs) were included, they were not well-written.

All of this posed both a financial and legal risk to the company.

  • If POs were opened directly into any ordering tool without contracts, there was no legal recourse should an engagement go awry. There was also no direction, no set expectations of deliverables, no measurement of performance

  • Purchase Orders were opened at any time, including after the work had begun or even after completion.

  • Individuals with no project responsibility were placing orders on behalf of project owners - removing all accountability

  • There was no centralized ordering tool to track compliance

The organization decided that changes were required to meet legal compliance.

  1. Project Owners would need to create their own POs

  2. Contracts/SOWs would be mandatory,

  3. POs would need to go through a centralized ordering tool

  4. POs were required for all work-for-hire engagements

  5. Direct access to the centralized tool would be limited

  6. Governance would be the responsibility of the procurement organization

Point #6 translated into: the role of the Buy-Desk would go away

Against popular demand, and in collaboration with Legal and the procurement organization, I implemented a phased approach to eliminate user access to the centralized ordering tool. The exception was granted to the Admin community. This meant that project owners could no longer delegate ordering of goods and services to someone else.

  • I assigned my 10 resources to different tasks, based on their skillsets and personalities:

  • Continue supporting project owners who were status quo (not yet migrating)

  • Assist and/or Review SOWs to ensure complete/comprehensive legal documents

  • Create policy documentation

  • Train project owners on the new processes and on the centralized ordering system

  • Track/Report/Publish Monthly Scorecards to the leadership team - which created a competitive atmosphere between the business groups.

* # of POs

* $ Value of POs

* # of After-the-Fact POs

Along the way, I assured the team members that although their positions at the Buy Desk were going away, I offered help and/or guidance for them to find jobs that would be aligned to their skillset and personal objectives.

One of my staff discovered that she really enjoyed training and has gone on to a successful career with various companies as a corporate trainer. Two others found positions within another organization which needed their international procurement experience.

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