15 February 2001 | Cathy Haywood
Purchasing played a central role in the Post Office's rebranding as Consignia last month, according to Alan Tweed, the organisation's procurement manager responsible for sales and marketing agency contracts.
Purchasing of design and marketing was radically reorganised to assist with the name change, with agency suppliers cut from 100 to 50.
"We reduced our suppliers because we wanted better communication, which we could only get with a small group of committed suppliers. We wanted them to be involved in the strategic side of the business," Tweed told SM.
"It gave us more leverage and negotiation opportunities. We worked closely with the rebranding and legal teams and were responsible for buying design, direct marketing and were also involved in the name change."
Performance bonuses were introduced to give suppliers the incentive to be more proactive, he added, which was crucial during the rebranding period.
The moves are part of an ongoing excellence in purchasing programme launched three years ago. This has made the Post Office's purchasing services unit one of the most professional in the public sector, according to Georgina Barnes, author of an Audit Commission report on procurement in the fire service in which the Post Office figured as a major case study.
The purchasing unit launched an e-procurement programme last year to put all aspects of buying, including bids and tenders, online within two years.
Corporate purchasing card use will be extended for electronic catalogue ordering and a training drive for staff has helped to give the purchasing department a more professional image within the organisation.