6 July 2010 | Isabel Palmer
The procurement process is getting longer, according to
almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of the 100 buyers surveyed in the latest SM
Purchasers quizzed voiced mixed opinions as to whether this
was a good or bad thing.
Last month, the defence, aerospace and security supplier
Chemring Group reported that delayed Ministry of Defence contracts dampened
profits in its first half.
Chemring’s chief executive David Price said: “What we are
seeing is not a slackening of demand, but a longer procurement process with
decisions needing higher authority before contracts are okayed.”
Most public sector buyers agreed and are frustrated by the
lengthier process and the need for higher-level authorisation. Many cited EU
regulations and the need to hit government targets as the cause.
“This need to hit efficiency targets is leading to scrutiny
similar to the Office of Government Commerce’s (OGC) gateway process,” said
Caroline Wood, procurement manager at Buckinghamshire County Council.
Andy Foulis, head of procurement at the Scottish government
agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said a further frustration is “caused
by the use of consultants within the public sector tightening delegated
However, most private sector buyers said a longer
procurement process was a good thing.
Vincent Fernandes, project manager at IT services firm
Agilisys, said: “Because of the difficult market conditions all spend has to be
reviewed to iron-clad purchasing decisions. Involvement from a CEO gives
procurement the opportunity to raise the bar internally. All unnecessary spend
will automatically be filtered out through this process and all critical ones
will be validated aggressively.”
Other private sector buyers said it wasn’t solely down to
the impact of the recession.
Paul Baker, senior procurement manager at broadband and
telecoms company Telefónica Europe, said their process had lengthened because
the function is now being accepted as a “core discipline within the business
and not a department that orders from brochures”.
“The inclusion of ‘decision gates’ enforces discipline and
ensures the business follows a recognised procurement framework to take the
business forward,” he added.
Siemens IT Solutions and Services has also extended the
sign-off process, introducing a procurement approval protocol and additional
senior management review forms.
However, Andrew Jones, director of sourcing and property
development at BMI Healthcare, is speeding up procurement. He believes it is
vital to remove “blockers” so his team can “accelerate the process”.