Within one division of waste management company Biffa there are 70 depots and 38 transfer stations. While this is great for our national customers, it can propose a challenge for a central procurement professional.
The challenges are:
• How do we gather data ahead of a RFP/tender exercise from every site?
• How do we advise and inform internal stakeholders of concluded contract specifics?
• How do we keep our internal stakeholders engaged, informed and updated on an ongoing basis?
It is widely accepted that face-to-face meetings are considered the best form of communication. However, given the scale of Biffa, this is either extremely difficult, if not impossible.
The procurement team has sought to use some of the tools available to enhance the process:
• Skype for conference calls and video conferencing for planning projects and engaging users.
• MS Forms pre-RFP for obtaining key data on the demand profile & suppliers per site.
• MS Forms post-RFP for advising the stakeholder of the contract specifics to successfully to implement a contract.
• Procurement intranet for knowledge sharing, supplier performance reports, project case studies and promotion of the preferred supplier list.
Previous experience had been that a central contract was concluded but not communicated. Stakeholders would regularly advise that they were unaware of contract obligations or supply opportunities. The new process is that all contracts are now formally communicated.
Example one: The procurement team was able to move one entire division (covering 25 national sites) to a group supplier of a strategic commodity, providing stakeholders with the reason for change, supplier contact details and contract specifics in advance of the change, meaning the stakeholders engaged and the change was successful. The sites were immediately compliant and remain compliant from the effective date.
Example two: The procurement team was able to move one region (covering eight sites) over to a favourable supplier contract, noting that we have received positive feedback from the stakeholders as they are now taking advantage of the new proposal and grateful to procurement for the savings delivered at their specific cost centre.
We accept that these tools do not replace meetings with stakeholders but they are essential in supporting national projects and/or contracts. Communication is essential to maximise the value-add and avoid contract leakage.
The method of communication is your choice but no communication is not an option.
☛ Cheryl Foster is group procurement buyer at Biffa Waste Services Ltd