Purchasing managers 'set to be e-commerce leaders'

2 November 2000
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02 November 2000 | Cathy Hayward

Purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector are set to be the e-commerce champions of the future, according to a report from accountants Deloitte & Touche and Cardiff Business School.

The report argues that firms need an e-commerce driver when introducing e-commerce policies to push the process through the organisation. They should be "recruited internally, from a manufacturing background blending the reality of the production and supply system with an appreciation of the commercial imperatives of the business", said Nick Rich of the Lean Enterprise Research Unit at Cardiff Business School, and the report's author.

David Fletcher, assurance and advisory partner at Deloitte & Touche, said purchasing managers had the necessary skills. Purchasers were the only managers with an overview of the business and an intimate knowledge of the supply chain, which was often the first area to be automated, he said. "We need to explain to staff that e-commerce is not a technological exercise but a business exercise."

The role of the purchasing manager would change fundamentally, he predicted. "The mundane part of their work will recede as they become more involved in managing the supply chain, instead of operating it."

Being an e-commerce champion should be a passport to a seat on the board, which had often denied been to purchasers, said Jim Norton, e-business director at the Institute of Directors.

"The worst thing you can do is appoint a head of e-business not on the board. It becomes an excuse not to press the issues and not recognising it affects every single person on the board."

The report, Manufacturing with a Small E, found that e-commerce is beginning to take off with 19 per cent of UK manufacturers predicting that up to one fifth of their sales will be through e-commerce within a year.


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