The following suggestions have been identified through interviews as important elements for sustaining and scaling the impact of local and diverse purchasing initiatives:
1. Invest time in researching and planning
Current procurement and sourcing processes may not be designed to support local and diverse businesses. Spend time at the onset to understand the bottlenecks and barriers, and where the most promising opportunities lie. Some hospitals and health systems have taken up to a year to “scrub” their past spending data to understand their current processes, their current vendor landscape, and to set data-driven goals.
2. Begin with areas of spending that are easier to shift (i.e. “low-hanging fruit”)
Not all items will be able to be procured from your target geography, by diverse vendors, or in underserved communities. Ultimately, business incubation or expansion strategies may be required for some categories of spend, which requires further time and investment. However, there are many areas in which spending more with local and diverse suppliers will be possible in the short-term, and focusing on this “low-hanging fruit” can help refine processes and build momentum.
Analyze your procurement by areas of spend to illuminate areas in which the shift to local, diverse suppliers may not be so difficult. Even portions of more difficult contracts can be localized and diversified; separating large contracts into smaller component parts or requiring subcontracting can help facilitate this. Focusing on “easy wins” will help institutionalize the practices and procedures to make it easier to work with local and diverse vendors in the future.
3. Set public goals and regularly track and report on progress
A key best practice is to set public goals for diverse and local spending. Setting public goals not only holds your institution accountable, but it can help increase local buy-in to your program and bring stakeholders to the table. A public commitment, built on goals informed by data, increases credibility of the effort and conveys that this is a priority to your community. In order to maintain this credibility, it is important to provide community progress reports.
Refer to worksheet 2
4. Educate all staff
Although it is easy to think of procurement and sourcing as a supply chain responsibility, in reality, local and diverse purchasing transcends all departments: clinicians, department heads, and administrative staff may need to switch vendors or invoicing practices. Getting staff on board for these changes takes time in large institutions. Dedicating resources to build a new culture around procurement will help increase impact significantly. Promising practices include presentations at monthly departmental staff meetings, requiring mandatory professional development training hours dedicated to local and diverse spending, communications from senior leadership, and one-on-one conversations with staff that make purchasing and budget decisions.
5. Ask for feedback
Ensure that there are processes for all stakeholders—interested vendors, existing vendors, local business partners, organizational partners—to provide feedback. This is important not only to ensure the program is effective, but because it will help generate narratives about impact. Often, individual stories are compelling, and create mechanisms for qualitative feedback that can contribute to a powerful evidence base for why these initiatives matter. Collecting stories about the new jobs created and the impact they have can demonstrate why shifting spend makes a difference.
Refer to worksheet 4