Google reveals purchasing 'mantra'

26 April 2013

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26 April 2013 | Paul Snell

Google has freed up time for buyers to do more strategic work by trying to “eliminate, automate or outsource” tasks which don’t add value.

Gabháin Neary, supplier sourcing leader EMEA and LATAM at the company told delegates at ProcureCon Indirect last week: “We came up with this simple mantra. Eliminate it, automate it – and if you can’t do any of those two things – then outsource it.”

Part of this process has involved passing some work back to staff at the internet firm – the “Googlers”. When a requisition is approved by the procurement team, a system automatically creates a purchase order and emails it to the stakeholder who then sends it to the supplier. They also get instructions on what to do, including how to upload the invoice.

“Eliminate, automate or outsource any of the non-value transactional work, it has really freed up ourselves, and it is a never-ending exercise to constantly refine that,” Neary said.

He added: “We’re just doing a pilot at the moment with a third-party to support us in supplier sourcing now. So my team are now just focused on doing stakeholder engagement.”

He also explained buyers at the firm need to think like salespeople to get engagement from stakeholders in an environment where using procurement is not mandatory. “We all need to do our sales pitch. I talk to my team like a sales team. They need to spend time with their customers, they need to be bringing in work,” he said.

Neary said e-auctions can be a powerful tool to win over stakeholders. “One thing we all enjoy at Google is getting stuff done online, and getting it done fast, so we are a huge fan of e-auctions. They look great if you need to impress a stakeholder bring them in and they really get caught up in it, it’s like Derby Day. It also obviously speeds up our process.”

He added the company has a target to e-auction 80 per cent of the spend on the company’s new office development in London, which will seat 5,000 Googlers when it is complete in 2015.

He also advised purchasers to learn what their stakeholders think and “to have a healthy disregard for the impossible”.

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