10 July 2014 | Andy Elton
As Aon’s head of IT across Europe, Middle East and Africa, Andy Elton values procurement’s role in leading the contract process and just wishes it had more capacity.
Describe your relationship with procurement?
I look after the IT infrastructure across Europe, Middle East and Africa for Aon, so the main services that we get from procurement are predominantly on managing the new contracts coming up. Procurement – we refer to the department as ‘sourcing’ – will process RFIs and RFPs and lead us through the contract process. Such contracts for services are typically coming along all the time, and sometimes they will be very complex tenders, sometimes less so. The department also does all the financial transactional support in the background from month to month.
Has your view of procurement changed?
My view of the department hasn’t really changed – it has always been, and continues to be, very valuable. The real added value from procurement is in running the process and producing a good contract at the end of it. It’s a very valuable function in this capacity.
Has procurement assisted specific projects?
We are currently going out to tender for a mobile phone supplier for the UK. Somebody from the procurement team has been running that and we’ll hopefully sign a contract on that very soon. That’s been a very long process. We also have lots of mini RFPs on current incumbent suppliers going on at the same time.
Where does procurement really add value?
Looking after the contracting process is where procurement really adds value. And that’s fairly typical for our team. So in the next 12 months there will be one or more terms of an outsourcing deal we have that will be restructured, for example.
I view procurement as being specialists in the process. This, along with procurement professionals’ experience at managing contracts, means I don’t have to worry about it as much. It’s the expertise and the experience that they bring to it. If I look back 10 years ago I would have had to do all of [what they do] myself, without the same level of specialism.
Where can procurement provide more support?
The challenge the procurement function has is that the team is busy, but then my department is also very busy. In the current world, having spare capacity is unusual. Prioritising can be a little bit of a challenge, but then when I need something doing that is high priority, the procurement team is able to do it.
Can you quantify the value of procurement?
It’s very difficult. I would need to think about it in terms of whether I needed to do [what procurement] does within my team versus procurement
doing it. The fact that my team is not specialist in these skills would mean the process would take longer. Procurement lowers risks associated with these processes and makes them more predictable. So I could begin to think about quantifying procurement’s value, but not very easily.
Is working with procurement easy enough?
Yes, we actually have a very good relationship. If the procurement team had more capacity then they
would do more, and they would be able to add more value and breadth to not just my department, but
also the whole company.
☛ Andy Elton
is head of IT Service UK and EMEA, Aon