Go out and take ideas from outside of procurement to add maximum value for your employer, buyers have been told.
Speaking at the CIPS UK Conference in London, Patrick Dunne, director of group procurement and cost base transformation at Sainsbury’s, said the best way to innovate was to repurpose ideas from the outside world for the procurement function.
“Steal with pride,” he said. “Ideas and new ways of doing things from the external world are probably much better than something you invent internally.”
Laura Faulkner, director of supply chain management at Nationwide, said: “Send people to events.
“It’s that curiosity, wanting to push the agenda forward and making sure than we share [that’s important].”
During a panel discussion on procurement’s value proposition, Oliver Cock, managing director at Foodbuy, said it was important to be a good representative for your company.
“Good procurement people are curious,” he said. “If you hire people who want to learn, investigate and see their suppliers and customers, they become great ambassadors for what you do.”
And even though it sounded obvious, he continued, he still knew of people who neglected to go out and learn about their sector or engage with the customer.
“A really good category management process starts with understanding the business needs. How do you get that without going out and talking to the customer? If you don’t start with the voice of the customer you're not running a proper process,” he continued.
Faulkner added: “You’re not going to learn about the sector if you’re not listening.”
The same session saw Faulkner and Cock also urging buyers at rival companies to collaborate rather than compete.