21 October 2004 | Geraint John
Creating a truly global purchasing team requires more than just an appreciation of different languages and time-zones, the conference heard.
Craig Lardner, group manager of supply management at the BOC Group, said that other barriers, such as differences in past practices, systems and remuneration packages, frustrate efforts to unite a geographically dispersed team.
At BOC, a leading industrial gases producer, the challenge had been to get 200 purchasers spread across the Americas, Europe and Asia working together effectively. Only 12 of them were based in the company's head office in Surrey, Lardner said.
The aim was to apply consistent processes and avoid duplication in the way they manage £2.5 billion of spend.
Under the motto "do it once for the company", some supply managers were placed in charge of a specific purchasing tool and technique. This information was placed on a global website and staff who wanted to modify, say, the request for information process had to consult the global "owner" of that tool.
Diversity was also an essential part of the "glue" that held a global operation together. Lardner said his central team was now more representative of the gender and ethnic mix of the countries in which BOC operated, but that it still had some way to go.