Focus on what keeps senior execs awake at night

10 October 2011

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10 October 2011 | Steve Bagshaw

“What keeps senior executives awake at night and what affects their bonuses,” are the two things that should occupy buyers’ thoughts according to Larry Beard, director of business transformation at Tate & Lyle.

During the panel discussion at the CIPS Conference last week he added, purchasers should “stop talking about purchasing and start talking the language of business. You won’t get anything by talking about procurement-to-pay systems to senior executives,” he said.

In his view there are two measures of the seriousness with which an organisation takes procurement: is it on the agenda for board members (for the right reasons) and is it mentioned in the corporate report?

Sarah Ellis, procurement director at BAA said it is vital to have alignment with stakeholders, which falls into three areas. First, how to contribute to efficiencies across the business, having management information so procurement can add to the overall strategy. This relies on “being clear what value is – and not just metrics that relate to savings; establishing what is value to the business. It is key for procurement to work with stakeholders much more closely and to add to the overall value of an organisation”.  Secondly purchasing must make itself “better as customers - more innovation to reduce barriers and make it easier for organisations to do business with us”. And thirdly, “positioning ourselves to create new revenue streams that were previously ignored by the organisation”. 

According to Steve Shirley, head of business development, commercial payment solutions at MasterCard, economic development is a supply chain initiative with three major issues: adopting an inclusive strategy with supplier diversity, promoting innovation in the supply chain and balancing capacity with demand using technology more to improve process. And he said: “Smarter payments are critical to both behaviour as well as processes.”

And for David Loseby, non-executive director at Westminster Business Council, members of the profession need to blow their own trumpet a little more. “We should be saying ‘look what we did’. We are too reserved and should be more front of house. We make the savings but we also do all this other stuff.”

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