May 2011 | Lindsay Clark
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
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.