The 10 fundamentals of buying

Joe Critchley, VP sales and business development at Trade Extensions1. Use professional buyers.

It may be tempting to expand an existing role to include the buying function, but only dedicated professional buyers will have the time, motivation and skills to complete a tender effectively.

 

2. Identify the best suppliers available and consider ones not used before.

Not all suppliers are capable of providing the prices and the quality of service you demand so one approach is to invite potential suppliers to complete a pre-qualification stage and evaluate them against some simple agreed criteria.

 

3. Involve operational ‘stakeholders’ at all stages.

It is essential that everyone affected by the tender is involved early on and given an opportunity to have input to all stages of the process.

 

4. Publicise the process at all stages.

A number of people not directly involved in the tender still have an interest in the outcome, for example factories and warehouses. In general, more communication is better than less.

 

5. Leave enough time.

A successful tender is reliant on keeping to a strict timetable. Although e-sourcing reduces the administrative burden it still means allowing enough time to specify the tender, collect offers, analyse these offers and implement the results.

 

6. Specify the tender properly.

Accurate specifications enable suppliers to make accurate bids. The most successful tenders are ones where buyers and suppliers are in total agreement over what is expected from each other.

 

7. Select winners carefully.

If an offer looks ‘too good to be true’ it often is, so contact suppliers directly and examine their quotes and their logic in detail. However, in an effective tender the suppliers with lowest offers can often provide the best quality and service because the item fits in well with the rest of their business.

 

8. Consider supplier protection.

Inevitably, incumbent suppliers stand to lose business during a tender and it may be agreed for various reasons to provide some limited protection to the supplier. In such circumstances, it is essential that the terms are discussed openly and it is not handled in a secretive or ad-hoc way.

 

9. Use optimisation.

Optimisation allows you to match the goods and services being bought with the most appropriate suppliers that meet your needs in terms of price, quality or any other consideration you have.

 

10. Handling losing suppliers – don’t burn bridges.

Unsuccessful suppliers may lose significant business and this situation needs to be dealt with professionally. It’s important to make clear to the suppliers that they still have a chance of winning business in the future.

 

☛ Joe Critchley, VP sales and business development at Trade Extensions

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