Des Balmforth, head of procurement of radar and advanced targeting at Selex ES, told SM that the award will help the company “demonstrate the value of procurement in our business”.
The gala evening took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London last Thursday, with TV comic Stephen Mangan as host. AirPlus International was the headline sponsor, Hays Procurement the platinum sponsor and QinetiQ Commerce Decisions returned as official technology provider for the judging.
SM editor Rebecca Ellinor followed up with the two companies after winning to find out more.
To Selex ES:
Q. Has the work done with REO (which was presented at a supplier conference in March) changed the behaviour of any other suppliers?
A. Many suppliers are impressed that REO was prepared to be quite so frank at the conference but that openness is a behaviour we have been developing with our strategic suppliers for some time. We have a systematic approach to this, with regular business reviews and scorecards underpinning each relationship and providing a framework for the conversations. Another aspect of our way of working is to have the procurement team deployed in Integrated Product Teams. This opens up the teamwork approach internally, giving the supplier a seat at the table with engineers and others, leading to a more collaborative relationship.
Winning the award helps to demonstrate the value we place on having suppliers who feel able to pick up the phone or visit as problems arise.
Q. What advice would you give CPOs considering investing in their suppliers?
A. Look at your own team’s capabilities as well as your suppliers. We have worked very hard to promote a shift in mind-set within Selex ES Procurement, particularly spending time with each team to build focus from the ‘transactional’ to the ‘value-add’, encouraging them to develop from ‘buyers’ to ‘business people’. This helps to ensure we understand our suppliers’ capabilities better and that the benefits of investment in them are expressed in a way that is clear to stakeholders and puts our contribution on centre stage.
To REO president and CEO Paul Kelly:
Q. When problems arose, how difficult a decision was it to ask for help?
A. It was very natural. Over time we developed a very professional relationship. We’ve worked very closely with them and had weekly phone calls. I had a personal relationship with some of the people involved and as a result of the professionalism and frequent contact and relationships, I went into it with a pretty high level of confidence that they wouldn't be punitive. There's always a risk, but I thought they would be supportive and rally around and that's what happened. And it's gone both ways: I feel very comfortable calling contacts in Edinburgh and saying 'we're frustrated about this and this' and they are very open and responsive to that feedback.
Q. Has the successful outcome of the work with Selex helped your business beyond the REO-Selex relationship?
A. It's had a dramatic impact. We changed processes, personnel and invested in capital equipment. It's more far-reaching than just with one customer. Other customers are benefitting from the rigorous, disciplined approach we worked through with Selex.
Q. Has the trust developed with Selex changed the way your business approaches other buyer-supplier arrangements?
A. We're hoping to use Selex as a model so we will be approachable and a true partner to our suppliers and support them.
Q. What difference will winning this award make to your organisation?
A. It’s a tremendous thing for us as an organisation to reaffirm the kinds of things we’ve been working for. It’s a great shot in the arm for our employees and the whole organisation. It’s a prestigious award and a big deal: We need to capitalise on that as best we can, without forgetting it’s not the end. We’re on the right road, we’re going in the right direction. To get in the competition and to be up against the BAEs, the BTs and Jaguar Land Rovers and realise we’re doing some good things here is a nice reminder but there's plenty more to do, we recognise that and we’re far from done.