Customers can check their credit score online using the Noddle app ©halfpoint/123RF
Customers can check their credit score online using the Noddle app ©halfpoint/123RF

Callcredit case study: engagement was top of the agenda

8 June 2018

Winning hearts and minds was needed to introduce a procurement function in the fast-moving data tech start-up 

Credit reference agency Callcredit has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2000, expanding into new regions and different data-driven services including fraud prevention tools and Noddle, a free-for-life credit report for consumers. But until Chris Graves joined as head of group procurement in 2016, the company had no formal function. Procurement was managed locally.

“The business recognised the need for consistency in on-boarding and managing suppliers,” says Graves. “For 16 years, the company had grown so quickly that supporting processes hadn’t had the chance to mature.” Callcredit deals with personal data so there was a need for strong governance processes in data handling and storage.

Key to Graves’ strategy was “winning hearts and minds” in the business. While there was no procurement legacy in Callcredit, stakeholders may have formed their own perceptions of procurement from other organisations. “It was about getting face time with key stakeholders and those people who had influence with suppliers,” Graves says.

He involved key stakeholders in recruitment decisions when building his team. The procurement team at Callcredit now numbers seven, split between category business partners (a 50/50 IT/non-IT ratio) and a procurement optimisation function, in charge of putting policies and processes in place. More tactical activity is outsourced to an offshore function in Lithuania.

One particular area of focus has been establishing procurement as a conduit for other business functions when appointing new suppliers. As a technology and data-driven business, information, security and data governance is critical, so a process called ‘Proc Track’ was developed. This ensures that any new projects requiring the support of these teams are identified early in the process, with approval from stakeholders needed to progress.

Early procurement wins include renegotiating a large data centre contract as Callcredit has “stacks of servers” that need housing offsite. “We were able to generate a large saving with no interruption to the operation, which helped us win that trust,” says Graves. Procurement has also worked with the info-security team to ensure third party contracts are secure, and is in the process of moving Callcredit’s CRM provider. It has also helped the consumer-facing Noddle team source innovative new suppliers to support product launches. 

Procurement has worked hand-in-hand with the risk, compliance and legal functions on a risk management framework, translating Financial Conduct Authority regulations into a set of processes for the business to adopt. Supplier workshops ensured these new processes were communicated externally as well.

In 2016 and 2017 cost savings targets were exceeded, resulting in a return on investment many times the cost of the team, and engagement with stakeholders is high, with post-project satisfaction ratings averaging more than 90%. 

 

From the ground up

For head of group procurement Chris Graves, the opportunity to set up a function from grassroots has been as rewarding as it is challenging.

“Typically a transformation project will mean you inherit a function that for some reason has stalled… and the task is about breathing new life into the function,” he says. “With a start-up you have to build from the ground up while also supporting the business with the sourcing and managing of its existing supply chain.”

This gives a unique opportunity to be innovative and creative, he says, crafting policies and processes that work inline with the existing business needs, culture and approach.

“Being part of a team that has created something from square one is a great feeling,” he adds. “If an opportunity to try it came up, I would encourage you to go for it. Don’t be put off from starting from scratch.”

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