07 June 2007 | Paul Snell
Buyers have been told that a difficult economy is no excuse for poor professional performance.
Phillip Dahwa, head of sourcing at Barclays bank in Zimbabwe and the CIPS council representative for Africa, said: "Procurement is no different in a challenging environment because business is business and expectations from your stakeholders are the same. You can't compromise on quality."
Speaking at the Institute of Procurement and Supply South Africa conference last month, Dahwa acknowledged there was little purchasers could do to influence political or economic factors. But there were strategies buyers could employ to help deal with them.
In a turbulent environment, he said, companies had to recognise the value of procurement. "You need dedicated resources to look at the function. Individual empowerment is important because decision-making is urgent."
Dahwa said in difficult environments, such as in Zimbabwe where annual inflation has reached 2,200 per cent, it is possible the quotations a buyer receives on one day will be invalid within 24 hours.
"Planning has to be short- to medium-term because things change overnight. You need to make the deal in the next 10 minutes, because bureaucracy slows down the process and time is of the essence."
Dahwa urged buyers to focus on relationship management. "Procurement has to be sharp in coming up with a supplier list that can be trusted. You need each other for survival."