Buyers outline aims for year ahead

29 March 2010

30 March 2010 | Rima Evans

Cost-cutting and gaining greater control of spend are the two top priorities for buyers in southern Africa this year, an SM survey has revealed.

Also high on the agenda are issues around supplier relationship management, increasing compliance and sustainable procurement.

The priorities of those surveyed in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa reflect the aims of buyers elsewhere in the world, according to a separate SM poll.

While the business imperative to maximise profit was cited by many of the respondents as a reason to cut costs, most admitted it was also a consequence of the downturn.

“The economic recession was a wake-up call for us to cut costs and buy wisely,” said Christopher Dube, procurement officer at Turbo Agencies, based in Botswana.

Some 56 per cent of respondents – drawn from private, public and state-owned organisations – said their savings targets had increased. And 61 per cent admitted the recession had affected their organisations by putting suppliers out of business.

Meanwhile, procurement’s influence and standing within organisations in southern Africa is mixed. The majority of respondents (39 per cent) reported the profile of procurement was strong within their organisation. Almost as many (31 per cent) said it was “weak”. However, nearly two thirds of buyers in the region (62 per cent) said their responsibilities had increased as a result of the slump.

 Despite compliance not rating as a top priority, respondents claimed to be performing well on the issue. Almost all organisations had a procurement policy, and compliance was rated as either “very good” or “good” by more than 80 per cent of participants.

Skills shortages in purchasing was a concern. Half of the 66 buyers said filling a procurement post was difficult. And while 71 per cent of organisations required buyers to have a purchasing qualification, respondents complained that too few people met this standard.

Nkanyezi Sithole, procurement manager of South African consultancy Kelly Group, explained: “Getting a qualified procurement specialist is not always easy as the profession is still a relatively new concept.”

Other respondents cited a lack of skills or experience and red tape as being hindrances to recruitment.

Commenting on the results, CIPS chief executive David Noble said: “Good procurement professionals have always been in demand, but now more than ever. The global recession has highlighted the need to make excellent use of resources, whether staff, time or cash.”

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