15 March 2007 | Paul Snell
Buyers have been urged to remember their business's overall strategy when trying to transform their procurement.
Speaking at last week's Ariba LIVE conference in London, James Gregson, head of strategic sourcing, Northern Europe at Ariba, said that purchasers needed to have "focused ambition" to achieve successful change.
"Everyone seems infatuated with changing procurement from transactional to strategic. But that isn't always aligned with the organisation," he said. "If procurement cannot align itself with what the organisation wants to achieve, it will not get the support for what it wants."
Keith McEvoy, financial operations manager at rental company Hertz, which has started to automate its decentralised purchasing structure, agreed. "Don't underestimate the complexity of this kind of change," he said. "You have to line up to the business on the way."
He added that much consideration should be given to internal communication during change programmes: "Only you can do it, by asking the right questions and starting discussions. You can't communicate too much."
He said in companies that do a lot of local buying, such as Hertz, often the best people to talk to about what processes work are those on the front line. Once you engaged them, they could act as "eyes and ears" on the ground, working on your behalf, he claimed.
He highlighted the need for support from other parts of the company, but said it could only be achieved by telling them that you could deliver something that would work for them. He added that without the help of his cross-functional team, drawn from areas such as IT and operations, he "wouldn't be here today".