By Bill Huber, Director, CPO Services, TPI
During tough economic times, procurement is often called upon to “win” price and payment term concessions from suppliers and service providers in order to boost the bottom line. While there is no question that part of procurement’s role is to ensure that a company is paying the best price, the “blunt instrument” approach tends to simply focus on supplier profit margins without doing anything to improve quality or drive innovation that ultimately, permanently removes real costs from the supply chain.
Here are five actions that you can take to raise the strategic impact of your procurement organization.
1. Define the target role for your procurement organization. Review your department objectives and formalize the role and results that you would like procurement to achieve for your company during tough economic times. Set strategic objectives in terms of innovation, quality, cost savings and customer service that the procurement organization will embrace as a response to recessionary times, and measure your progress toward those goals.
2. Segment your supply base. A formal tiering of your supply base, with best-practice supplier management processes for the top tier, can have a dramatic effect on the value that you derive from your most important suppliers. Set frequencies for reporting, monitoring, collaboration and financial reviews with each, and require that your most strategic suppliers bring a certain number of innovation suggestions to the table each period. Set a formal process whereby these suggestions will be vetted, with the best ideas submitted for review by an executive-level procurement governance team.
3. Realign your resources. Identify underutilized or misaligned resources, and shift roles to focus talent on your greatest areas of opportunity. Often individuals who have been focused on a particular commodity because of their expertise could bring a fresh perspective to other categories. People who make the greatest impact in their current areas can have an even greater effect on an entirely different category.
4. Review processes and technology to identify roadblocks and underutilized capabilities. Processes can be slower and more cumbersome than they need to be. Stay on the lookout for procurement processes that were designed to address a past problem that is no longer relevant today. Also, organizations often have only partially deployed procurement technology solutions for lack of resources to support a more ambitious rollout. A second look can reveal underutilized technology that could be leveraged with a different support model to drive faster cost savings or improve visibility or user satisfaction.
5. Evaluate governance structures, and change if necessary. Good procurement governance should enable transparency and balanced decision making. In order for it to be effective, procurement governance must be designed to ensure that important decisions are made at the right level to balance risks with rewards, and to ensure a timely flow of information to the right levels of the organization.
Implementation of these five actions could ultimately improve the effectiveness of your procurement organization by 3 to 5 percent or more, increasing your impact on the bottom line and transforming the role that procurement plays within your company.
TPI’s CPO Services experts can collaborate with you to assess your current procurement processes, then help you identify and implement strategies to improve quality, drive innovation and permanently remove real costs from the supply chain.
Contact us today to begin the dialogue.