16 July 2009 | Jake Kanter
Procurement has shot up the agenda at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) after boosting its internal profile and saving more than £1.5 million in the past year.
Strategic procurement manager Chris Day said the department had gone from an administrative role, to controlling over half the charity's £120 million annual spend and having input into its major investment projects.
"Two years ago you could have removed the procurement team and the organisation would have carried on without any problems. If you did that today, it would struggle because we are so much more involved," he said.
Day and his team of 11 buyers have put in place a procurement policy that gives them greater control over spend categories. It has also introduced e-sourcing and a travel purchasing system across the organisation. Procurement is tasked with saving £600,000 this year and hopes to benefit from the implementation of RNIB's first purchase-to-pay system by September.
"We've had to introduce systems that make it easier for people, rather than beating them with a stick," said Day. This has given procurement access to some of the charity's more high-profile projects. Last year the team helped deliver savings of £465,549 after negotiating a contract for talking book players. These are specially made to play the 14,000 talking books the RNIB produces every week.
The organisation has also cut vendor numbers from 23,000 to about 7,500. Day said this would help RNIB work more effectively with preferred suppliers. He added: "Before May last year, almost anybody could set up a new supplier account. We've taken this access away, so only procurement can approve accounts."