Buyers split on value of industry accreditation schemes

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
27 October 2014

Buyers are split on the value of industry accreditation schemes when it comes to making spending decisions, according to a poll.

The SM Jury was hung on the question “Are your buying decisions influenced by industry accreditation schemes?” with six voting “yes” and six “no”.

Some said consideration of such schemes was a vital part of the purchasing process while others were sceptical of their value.

Tony Morris, senior procurement management consultant at SPC, said he made schemes part of the selection process.

“If a supplier is that committed to his work to go through the trouble of getting an award then I want to know about it,” he said. “I'd prefer to use a supplier with industry awards than a supplier without one.”

Cristian Martin, procurement and contracts officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat, agreed.

“An accreditation is a form of standard, we would always look to align with an industry-recognised body for a standard, for example we ask for ISO standards or other industry-related accreditations, right down to choosing to purchase Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance products wherever possible.”

However, Darren Niblo, procurement co-ordinator at Falkirk Council, said an absence of accreditation did not necessarily mean a supplier was not compliant.

“Having a supplier present a certificate to say they are compliant with certain accreditations makes it easier to evaluate but it does not mean that without the certification they are not compliant with the requirements, it just means that they have not been externally evaluation by the accredited body,” he said. “In the absence of the accreditation, you need to evaluate all factors that would equate to an award.  I am influenced by the requirements of the scheme rather than the accreditation itself.”

Lee Parkinson, director at Parkinson Procurement Solutions, was more critical, saying schemes could be used by “lazy buyers to insulate themselves from the responsibility of thoroughly understanding the organisational health of their vendors”.

“In recent times a plethora of accreditation schemes have popped up all with claims of improved control and compliance,” he said. “However, in many cases the claims are not backed by robust data management systems and often overlook more accurate and up to date information, which is essential to understanding the competency and capacity of vendors.”

Parkinson said they “ultimately add cost to companies who have little or no choice in subscribing to such accreditation schemes, particularly when large clients implement their use often without warning”.

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