In between a rock and a hard place - Supply Management

In between a rock and a hard place

Ben Forshaw is a buyerMost of us who work in procurement recognise it is hard work a lot of the time, particularly in an organisation that ignores or dismisses the department.

There are two things we need to look at to avoid the frustration:

1. Examine where the issue is.

Is there one department or individual that is stopping progression? I have had people who will not email back for two months just to avoid an issue. If you can, escalate your problem. If you can't, then I would avoid the soft line. You need to relay that this is either out of process, or just plain not right. Additional data, including current spend and how much that person has to spend will help you, but the main thing is to question that commercial decision.

2. What is the solution?

The cause of the problem - who, where in the organisation and what is their effect – determines your approach. The answer needs to reflect the environment you work in. If there is one individual, then you can tackle them, resolve it, and you are on the home straight. Question them, get to know them, but ultimately you need to install an understanding of procurement in them. There are people who will still ignore this and this is something we need to accept.

The greatest way to gain recognition in a business is reducing someone’s spend while maintaining that supplier or process. It is amazing the reaction you can receive. This is the holy grail of the business - commercial deals that the organisation can buy into, at the right price, within the specification that’s given.

A lot of people ask me why I got into our profession. My answer is that I get a kick out of buying for the smallest price. Salesman get a kick out of selling (and a bonus) - but how can you compare that to the reward of getting a 40 or 50 per cent saving?

Ben Forshaw is a buyer

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