What are our limits?

1 November 2007
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01 November 2007 | Rebecca Ellinor

How to demonstrate that procurement does more than save money was thrashed out at an roundtable discussion.

In the final of three "thought-leadership debates" participants gathered at the Emirates Stadium in London to explore the question: "Are there any limits to procurement's role?"

Attracting newcomers and having enough buyers to get involved in all areas of the business were cited as restrictions. Contributors also suggested ways to overcome another hurdle - measuring purchasing's contribution in addition to savings to persuade other departments of its worth.

"At Wyeth we have a customer satisfaction survey," said Paul Bestford, senior director, global strategic sourcing, EMEA. "We ask people about their perceptions of the innovation we've brought in, the rigour of our processes, how well we understand their business and collaborate with them and whether they have confidence in the tangible value we're offering."

He said this not only helps his department prove the value it adds beyond savings, but reveals any problems.

James Ratcliff, director sourcing and supply management at Kimberley-Clark Europe, said: "Saving £25 million is much less relevant to the CFO/CEO than coming up with something that gives us an advantage in the marketplace."

Benjamin Schmittzehe, managing director of the UK office of Sustainomics Group, agreed. He said procurement can estimate the financial impact on the bottom line of, for example, helping to develop a product more rapidly, which allows it to grab more market share.

  • Read the full write-up of this debate in SM on 29 November

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