Procurement’s role ‘to put smiles on customers’ faces’

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
18 May 2014

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19 May 2014 | Paul Snell

Procurement professionals must concentrate on putting a smile on the face of customers and focus less on process.

That’s according to Suhail Bin Tarraf, CEO of Tanfeeth - the Gulf's first shared service centre - speaking at the CIPS Middle East Conference in Dubai this week.

Bin Tarraf said one of the biggest challenges for those working in support functions is to change their mindset and think of the impact of their role on the customer, instead of fixating on the process. He added CEOs have two primary demands of their purchasing teams.

“Procurement for me has to answer two main questions,” he said. “Am I getting the best deal? And how efficient is it? I don’t want the noise of procurement to come to my office - just do it. Those are the two main questions any CEO wants the answer to.”

But, he warned, meeting those challenges is not enough to get a seat at the boardroom table.

“You have to show me that you have earnt that seat - that you can add value to the organisation, that you put smiles on customers’ faces. Or am I still getting calls that the PCs don’t work and the toilets are broken? You should think strategically if you want a seat on the executive committee.”

He said that there was often too much focus on the procurement process, and it was often used as an excuse to block changes.  “Who created that process? It’s you. So don’t tell me the process can’t change,” he said.

Bin Tarraf also urged buyers to outsource the parts of the process that don’t add value to the organisation. “You need to market yourself, where you deliver the end-smile,” he advised.

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