18 October 2007 | Antony Barton
Friends Provident, a FTSE 100 financial services group, has set up a centralised procurement operation to manage its buying activity.
The team of five comprises a procurement manager, an IT contracts manager, a senior buyer, an IT buyer and a procurement consultant.
Stuart Fyffe, strategic procurement manager, was brought in last November to lead the project, having previously worked as a senior procurement manager at AXA UK. He told SM
the business used to work in silos: "Marketing did its own thing, IT did its own thing and finance did its own thing. IT may have been using the same supplier as finance, yet had completely different arrangements.
"We bring a consistent, centralised approach, which improves our commercial arrangements with suppliers."
He says the team has taken over IT buying activity, which was previously spread across the firm's five UK sites. It will not, however, centralise all procurement activity, but will provide guidance for each of the firm's divisions.
Fyffe is unconcerned that spend in some areas is controlled by non-buyers: "We're not a big enough team to manage everything that goes forward. As long as they're following the methodologies, policy and governance and we stay informed, then we can make the best of it."
Procurement training, contract templates and a thorough methodology will soon be available for staff outside the team. Trained buyers will lead high-value and high-risk purchases.
The team is also developing a new purchase order system for next year, reducing the firm's current three contracts databases down to one.