How to Build a Strong Procurement Function

This blog entry is inspired by Leo King, independent journalist, who recently asked three questions and interviewed me for an article in The Times, 21 January, “Building a First-Class Procurement Function.” These are my notes in preparation for the interview, with a few additions and corrected grammar for this publication.

Q1:  What are the key factors required for a strong procurement function?  Why are these so important?

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Supplier Classification – How to show suppliers where they stand

Recently I commented on a LinkedIn discussion,  “Presently I am looking to devise a simple classification structure for my supply base – something that will allow my suppliers/providers to know where they presently stand from an engagement/expectation perspective and that shows them what they can work towards…. Does anyone have examples of such structures that they can share?”

My reply (edited): Continue reading

Supply chain: a cross-functional collaboration… or the blinkered approach of functional silos?

A recent post in Purchasing Insight, “What can game theory teach us about Financial Supply Chain Management?” highlights the overall financial impact of paying suppliers as late as possible. The key point is that the working capital cost to supplier usually far outweighs the savings to the customer, thereby increasing the overall cost to the supply chain. The post got me thinking about a much bigger issue: how businesses manage their supply chains – a cross-functional collaboration or a collection of functional silos? Continue reading

Lean vs Agile Supply Chain… or can we have both?


This blog is inspired by Rudi Verheyden who posted a question “Does Supply Chain LEANness mean that the Supply Chain organisation is also agile, or are these 2 elements rather conflicting or independent from each other ?”  in the Supply Chain Optimization Group on LinkedIn. (The same question is also posted in the Inspired Supply Chain & Logistics Executives Group but at time of writing had no comments.)

This is a very big question, with many facets to be explored. I look forward to following the discussion. My immediate thoughts are that there is some conflict, some consistency and some dependency. Continue reading

How to Determine Purchasing Organisation: Purchasing Activity Analysis

Judging by the limited references in the literature on purchasing practice and purchasing organisation, it would seem that purchasing activity analysis is a much underrated tool.

Why is activity analysis an important tool in determining purchasing organisation and establishing good practice? Continue reading

The Role of Procurement: Cost Saving or Adding Value?


Where does cost saving sit in your Procurement’s scheme of things?

In a recent series of articles I have been examining the reasons why procurement cost-saving initiatives frequently fail to meet expectations, particularly in term of delivering measurable improvements in business profitability. There is undoubtedly a bigger question: where does cost saving sit in Procurement’s scheme of things? Continue reading