Purchasers hold keys to business engagement

11 October 2010

12 October 2010 | Angeline Albert

Procurement professionals say their teams can engage stakeholders almost all or most of the time, according to the SM100 survey.

Getting buy-in from lines of business was identified as a key challenge for the profession during the CIPS conference last month. But respondents to this week’s survey seem confident they are on top of it.

In response to the question “To what extent do you think your procurement department is able to engage stakeholders?”, 42 per cent said most of the time and 32 per cent said almost always.

Just under a quarter – 24 per cent – of poll respondents said some of the time, and 2 per cent said almost never.

Spending time with business managers and good market data emerged as keys to success.

“Almost always” was the reply from Jamie Holmes, sourcing manager for an investment bank, who said being based in a stakeholder’s team for one or two days a week smoothed relations.

David Harrison, director of sourcing and contracting at pharmaceutical firm UCB, also said almost always. Working with finance, purchasing “deconstructs” stakeholders’ budgets to identify likely spending.  

“We do that for almost all departments,” he said. “A 360-degree view of the organisation’s spend profile and strategy gives us credibility because we can give our stakeholders a view of the value that others are getting by involving purchasing early.”

A senior buyer from the construction sector, who answered “some of the time”, said “a lack of support from senior levels for the procurement function within the organisation” was a barrier to forming relationships with stakeholders.

Gareth Hughes, head of non-inventory purchasing at Bupa, said his department achieved it most of the time. “Ultimately we need to wear a business partner and commercial hat,” he said. “Align yourself to their plans and drop the jargon.”

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