11 August 2008 | Jake Kanter
BP is to 'transform' its procurement function in the UK and beyond. The plan, which will include a major recruitment drive, aims to place buyers at the heart of the company.
The oil giant has taken on 150 buyers so far in its global exploration and production sector and plans to employ a "substantial" number of purchasers over the project's two to three year duration.
It is also investing in its in-house training courses and purchasing and risk evaluation systems to help the function become "world class".
Ranelle Randles, director of transformation in BP's US procurement and supply chain function, said the company had previously not invested "as much as it needed to" into purchasing.
She told SM the initiative comes directly from the board after it realised there was "much to be gained" from a strong procurement department.
Although she could not reveal the total number of staff BP will eventually employ, she said it was looking for "experienced" buyers.
"In the past procurement hasnot always been recognised as a distinctive discipline. The staff we have taken on had engineering experience rather than a supply chain background. We want people with deep procurement and supply chain skills."
The buyers are to be placed all over the world and will manage the annual spend of $22 billion (£11.2 billion) for exploration and production. Projects are "hugely capital intensive" and purchasers will secure goods such as drilling facilities and pipeline for BP's deep-water rigs.
There will also be a strong emphasis on training for all procurement staff, overseen by a 'head of talent' who will develop skills such as negotiation and category management. The company hopes to focus on management capabilities and grow future leaders.
Randles said the scheme is attracting high-calibre candidates: "This is not just a flavour of the month for BP. The investment we're making is creating a very sustainable infrastructure."
She hopes the changes will drive "significant" savings and enable buyers to put better risk management strategies in place.
She would not confirm if BP planned to reduce its supply base, but said it had recently divided a large amount of work between three major contractors.