05 June 2008
Buyers should identify the "Billy Bunter" elements of their procurement department in order to
David Long, director at South African supply chain consultancy Volition, said buyers need to get to grips with problems that hold up their function - which he likened to fictional character Billy Bunter delaying a group walk - to drive improvement within their function.
He told delegates at the annual IPSA CIPS conference in Johannesburg last month: "You'll never get rid of all the constraints, but the idea is to be as good as you can be using the constraints you do have."
He advised using Eli Goldratt's "theory of constraints", which explains how businesses can make radical operational improvements by working with problems. It advises identifying, exploiting and then raising the performance of the constraint, which could be a problem with people or processes.
Common constraints in procurement include inadequate skills, insufficient resources, lack of stakeholder buy-in and compliance issues.
Long said the main conflict he sees in purchasing is the battle between savings and buying the right things. The constraint is not having people that can do both.
He urged buyers to prioritise their constraints based upon the effect they have on how the business is measured, and ensure appropriate resources are allocated to the project.