Eaton aims for better savings through procurement

Gurjit Degun
23 April 2014

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23 April 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Global power management company Eaton is looking at employee behaviour and spending decisions to create more value.

That’s according to Les Ball, Eaton’s vice president of supply chain management for the EMEA region and global sourcing, in an exclusive interview with SM.

“We’ve got really good performance but we can get even better,” he said. “We see some further improvement around stakeholder relations and really influencing the demand and going after spend decisions."

Rather than always trying to drive savings through negotiation, the company is "questioning where we are spending our money, even the behaviour of the employees – how they are spending indirect dollars on different products.

"So that might be anything from how people travel, how they use their mobile phones, right through to consultants or other kinds of services, looking at how money is spent and how it can be done more efficiently.”

Ball said Eaton started to centralise indirect procurement in 2010, and is looking at how to develop its direct function. As well as making use of playbooks and introducing more standard processes, it is forming a centre of excellence which will design all the processes and policies around procurement.

The company held its first "cross-business" supplier event in Amsterdam last month to help its 100 top suppliers look at the company as one business.

“As we speak to our suppliers we want to leverage them,” said Ball. “We’ve got too many suppliers and are constantly looking at how we can take our most strategic partners and grow them to become more strategic, and how we can be more intimate with those suppliers.”

As Eaton grows, it is actively recruiting for procurement and supply chain positions. “We’re talent hawks,” Ball said, although he pointed out that potential employees do not need to have had a procurement or supply chain background.

He added he is looking for people who have some, or all, of the following skills: “project management, change management, influencing skills, orientation, being able to partner with stakeholders in a way that has a strong resolve in a harmonious way, so building strong relationships, doesn’t say yes to everything or doesn’t accept pushback but can be effective in influencing for results”.

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