The global Japanese technology firm has been undergoing a procurement transformation © Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The global Japanese technology firm has been undergoing a procurement transformation © Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Three lessons from Fujitsu’s global procurement overhaul

4 March 2021

Revisiting key cornerstones of business has been crucial on Fujitsu’s journey to establishing a global procurement function, a conference was told.  

Clive Rees, VP, international chief procurement officer at Fujitsu, told delegates at eWorld the firm had begun its journey towards a global procurement function towards the end of 2018 to tackle its “very fragmented” procurement system. 

“It was very regionally led. We duplicated things sometimes. We were conflicting against each other so it was a bit of a mess,” he said.

“What we've tried to move to is a situation where we have joined up the global supply chain with the regions. We're trying to adopt best practice where we can across the globe. We're standardising the policies, the systems and the tools we use.

“In terms of our messages to our key suppliers, we're looking to be consistent and have one voice in our approach,” he added.

The firm’s global procurement vision aimed to “keep things simple” and “understand what are cornerstones for success”.

These included learning and development of employees, strategy including category planning and analytics, communication with stakeholders, and responsible operating practices.

“All of those things come together and we're trying to make sure we're as clear as we can be. We haven't always got it right but we're trying to make sure that we revisit and look at how we're positioning ourselves with those cornerstones,” Rees said.

Rees shared some of the key learnings from the last two years of Fujitsu’s move to a global procurement function:

1. Embracing diversity

“One of the things we've learned is the need to embrace the diversity within the teams. We work across many different cultures, many different nationalities, many different start points and many different baselines,” Rees said. 

“One of the things that we underestimated was the complexity of bringing that all together. Even in things like the means of communication. Messages don't all get received in the same way in different parts of the globe, so be aware of the diversity, embrace the diversity. Work with it, don’t work against it.”

2. Don't make everything global

As part of its transformation, Fujitsu developed category plans to identify whether categories of spend should be managed at a global level, a regional level or a local level. 

Rees said: “Not everything global works. Not everything global is good. We need to make sure there's a critical evaluation of the key decisions to make sure we pick the right way to approach things and the right way to contract with suppliers. Global isn't always the best or the only way.”

He added: “Initially we looked at hardware and software, which from our perspective is easier to do on a global basis. We are looking at travel as some aspects are best done globally and some are best done regionally. 

“We're also looking at distribution channels to see what makes sense to do on a global basis or whether in fact that should be done on a regional basis.”

The key to success with category plans is to avoid making them “too much of an academic exercise”, he said.

“They need to be simple and readable, so that people will understand and engage with them.”  

3. Checking in and sharing best practice

Rees outlined the importance of learning and development in procurement as the Fujitsu team moved towards a global approach. 

He added it had been crucial to take regular sense checks on the journey to ensure the team could manage the extra capability or whether there was a learning requirement.

“I would suggest having a stream that regularly checks how people are doing as we try to broaden our scope and our responsibility,” he said.  

“One of the things that has helped us is to share best practice around your team. We're trying to develop this and trying to understand how we can be better at it. We need to celebrate and encourage the sharing of best practice. Don't underestimate the value that it brings,” Rees said.

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