Strikes mean Royal Mail defers procurement capability test

4 November 2009

04 November 2009 | Jake Kanter

Ongoing strike action at Royal Mail has delayed the procurement team assessing whether it is one of the best in Europe.

The target, set in 2006 by former head of purchasing Ninian Wilson, was designed to transform Royal Mail procurement into one of the top three procurement departments in Europe in three years (Features, 19 October 2006). But the purchasing team was not able to finish a procurement benchmarking study by consultants AT Kearney, which compared participating firms' procurement capability, because they were drafted into front-line postal operations during industrial action. The department will complete the survey in the coming weeks and expects to have the results by mid-January. Buyers, as well as other back-office staff, have been assisting in the collection, sorting and delivery of mail while postal workers have been on strike. Head of procurement Kath Harmeston told SM: "Royal Mail group procurement has been unable to complete a full and final benchmark against its 'top three in three' target due to the company's current focus on industrial relations, which has limited the availability of the procurement team and our internal customers to participate in a benchmark survey." However, she added that the organisation had beaten its 2006 target of saving £300 million by this year. Royal Mail has also restructured procurement and aims to save £100 million by December following the arrival of Harmeston earlier this year (News, 9 July). Postal workers are expected to stage their latest round of strikes on Friday and Monday.

SMnov2009

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