Technology not a replacement for purchasing basics, says Findus

27 May 2011

27 May 2011 | Lindsay Clark


The right people and processes must be in place before e-procurement tools can be successful, according to a top buyer at Findus Group.

Procurement teams should approach sourcing and spend visibility software as additional tools, not a replacement for procurement fundamentals, said Richard Stables, purchasing director - essentials, with the food manufacturer.


“The buyers have to have a certain capability,” he said. “You have to have a certain strategic approach. If you don’t have the fundamentals in place in people and process, e-sourcing is not going to be the solution to all of your challenges – it can fail as well as succeed.”


Three-and-a-half years ago, when Stables joined Findus, it did not do e-sourcing. Although he had experience of these tools at his previous employer Heinz, he did not implement them immediately at Findus.


“It was a case of building credibility, getting the right structure in place, starting to have the right kind of results, and then overlaying the e-sourcing module,” he told delegates at the Ariba Live 2011 conference in London this week.

Now the team is moving on to implement Ariba’s spend visibility tools, he said. 

Both tools allow buyers to become more strategic, and focus on high-value activities. “The buyer wants to spend less time [collecting data], and more time managing the supplier relationships and presenting of the options to the business. I want my buyers to be doing those kinds of things; I don’t want them to be spending three months of a four-month tender cycle doing data.”



In a recent tender, e-sourcing allowed the buyer to spend more time visiting supplier locations in China, India and Turkey, to establish a strong network, Stables said. “They were selling Findus to [the suppliers], saying, ‘This is why you want to be doing business with us’. At the end of it we had a truly global sourcing exercise.”
 
Over the first two years using e-sourcing tools from Ariba, Findus has averaged about 10 to 12 per cent saving on contracts.

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