Buyers told: involve suppliers early

4 October 2005
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05 October 2005 | Anusha Bradley

Buyers need to show their suppliers the benefits of investing in e-procurement projects at the earliest possible stage, or run the risk of their failure.

That was the warning from Keith La Roche, e-commerce manager for RS Components, a distributor of electronic and mechanical parts, at the eWorld Purchasing & Supply conference in London last week.

La Roche said that RS had invested £31 million in the past few years in its own e-commerce projects and that of customers, but added: "We can't keep investing unless we see the benefits."

He said the firm had been involved in 1,400 customer e-procurement programmes but could "count on one hand how many have been successful".

"Suppliers are keen to take part in e-procurement strategies because it offers opportunity and exclusivity. But you need to drive the benefit for suppliers," he added.

La Roche urged buyers to "think big, start small and scale quickly" and to reduce their supply base, inviting key suppliers to collaborate at the scoping stage.

In his experience, the switch to e-procurement was only successful when buyers deconstructed purchasing processes and rebuilt them around the technology.

He also advised them to select internal champions to promote the new processes and reinforce training as early as possible.

He added: "Speak to suppliers about your plans and use the experiences they have had with other customers to avoid the pitfalls."

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