13 May 2004 | Andrew Golder
Oxfam's new purchasing strategy manager says one of her main challenges is making the charity's procurement more professional.
Rachel Wilshaw, formerly ethical purchasing manager and supply relationships manager, says her role is to ensure purchasers within its six divisions adhere to the charity's strict guidelines for ethical procurement.
Wilshaw buys nothing herself and is instead in charge of overseeing purchasing in the divisions that buy everything from disaster relief aid - water pumps, blankets and such items - to goods for resale in the charity's 800-odd shops.
In addition, the charity also needs to buy HR and support services to contact its 600,000 supporters and 30,000 regular contributors, as well as the goods and services needed for it to run its operations smoothly.
"In any organisation with a humanitarian mission, purchasing is not always given the importance it deserves," she said. "We are trying to establish procurement within Oxfam as a professional discipline."
Wilshaw is keen to measure progress and ensure guidelines are met, as well as make sure 10-20 per cent more purchasers use preferred supplier lists.
"We have not set specific savings targets, but we expect to get the best deal possible on all our contracts. We have preferred supplier agreements for most corporate requirements and we want a greater take-up of those."
Other targets include running training courses for buyers and promoting purchasing within the senior management team.