12 December 2013 | John Collington
Describe your relationship with procurement?
Very positive. My background is in procurement [Collington was previously UK government CPO] and it’s my fundamental belief that procurement and well- applied supply management can support both business growth and contribute to bottom line results. We have worked with a small specialist company ProfitFlo to augment our own developing and highly valued team.
Has your view of procurement changed?
It’s matured as procurement has developed. When I started in procurement in the early 90s, it was often seen as ‘back office’ or part of another function, i.e. IT.
I now see professional procurement being applied across the clients we serve at AMS to a very high degree. Through my time supporting government, I appreciate the role of effective supply management and supply chains in the delivery of direct service and we use a number of suppliers, mostly SMEs in the delivery of service.
Has procurement assisted specific projects?
The AMS procurement team worked on two critical programmes in the last 18 months. Firstly, a business transformation programme where procurement ran one of the work-streams to deliver a more streamlined and cost efficient Partner Programme. Secondly, on one of the biggest client wins in 2013, procurement played a critical role in transitioning circa 40 agencies onto new terms and conditions and building commercial pricing tools to support and deliver detailed supplier negotiations.
Where does procurement really add value?
In three key areas of the operations and client delivery functions at AMS: a) Delivery of sustainable bottom line contribution through a rigorously managed savings tracking process jointly sponsored at executive level by the CFO and me;
b) Management and continuous focus on our three critical ‘direct’ categories of spend (media, agency supply chains and technology), supporting delivery of services to AMS clients and in effective management of all other ‘indirect’ categories;
c) Supporting colleagues in business developments by identifying and executing optimum supply chain value.
Where can procurement provide more support?
We’ve made great progress in up-skilling our function, with staff encouraged to become CIPS qualified. A key focus in 2014 will be to support the planned global business growth of AMS, applying lessons from the past and opening our minds to the possible in delivery, through effective use of technology.
Can you quantify the value of procurement?
Yes, in two areas. Firstly, the direct contribution to bottom line performance, measured monthly. Secondly, where procurement supports the delivery of direct service and we track the value our efforts are delivering through, for example, lowering the costs of ownership of recruitment.
Is working with procurement easy enough?
Yes, but all processes can improve. Procurement’s profile will continue to rise, as will expectations on the value the function and team can add to the business.
How can the working relationship improve?
Be clear on the value you can add and are adding through meaningful and regular reporting.
☛ John Collington is COO of Alexander Mann Solutions – AMS