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Keeping NATO moving

Optimizing procurement negotiations at an international agency

The NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) is tasked with achieving maximum effectiveness in logistics support at optimum cost to the NATO member nations. The agency organizes the procurement and supply of spare parts and arranges maintenance and repair whenever two or more nations operate the same system or equipment. NAMSA’s purchasing and procurement team is central to the agency’s success. In the face of powerful corporate interests and the most stringent of compliance guidelines, the Luxembourg-based experts negotiate the deals which keep NATO on the move and in the field.

The challenge

Knowing their multi-national team was well trained in the commercial and technical aspects of their work, NAMSA’s purchasing management felt that the best return on their training budget would be to sharpen their employees’ negotiation skills. The training challenge was to develop a pragmatic, results-oriented negotiations program for a heterogeneous group (cultural-, technical- and commercial backgrounds). The training needed to be directly relevant to NAMSA’s specific business case of agency-to-corporation procurement. The quality of a supplier's service was seen as being as relevant to negotiations and price.

How we helped to keep NATO moving

During the 2-day workshop we introduced a number of universal negotiating concepts such as creating and claiming value, gearing pressure, dealing with deadlock and identifying interests. These concepts were analyzed to establish how their application could support the participants’ on-going dealings with particular key suppliers. Real-play scenarios were then developed to train the application of the negotiating strategies in realistic NAMSA scenarios. Finally, feedback and repetition drove the training transfer.

Following the program, the purchasers and procurement agents had techniques and strategies at their command which helped strengthen NAMSA’s position when negotiating with powerful international suppliers. ”Keeping NATO moving” is a classic example of a Target negotiations training solution - practical, transferable and above all successful.

The success of the first negotiations training workshop led to NAMSA’s decision to extend and expand the program:

Influencing suppliers during relationships where both sides are contractually committed to working together – a common situation in the NAMSA environment.
Analyzing the options of integrating the principles of performance-based contracting into the NAMSA procurement process.
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