31 Mar 15

Polished procurement: Getting it right the first time

Over the past decade or so corporate procurement has become an increasingly strategic function that's central to business success. Here's three tips on how to ensure excellent performance with fleet focused procurement.

The head of procurement is nowadays an Executive Board level post in many organisations for good reason. Procurement departments that were once staffed by teams of buyers are now hubs of expertise with executives striving to streamline business processes, identify better sources of supply and optimise spend whilst maximising value. 

Fleet in this new procurement centred world has become a category of spend. Outsourced suppliers pick up many of the traditional pieces of the fleet management jigsaw that used to be delivered by a fleet manager on a day-to-day basis, whilst procurement manages relationships at a strategic level in the quest to optimise performance. 

As the importance of procurement in the corporate chain of command shows no signs of slowing down it's time to cram up on what makes a great procurement tick. To avoid the pitfalls and end up with a polished product or service, here's some best practice advice on making sure that procurement matters for all the right reasons.

It's about people as well as purchasing - You may have best strategy papers, power points and performance scorecards, but people are what really count. Procurement departments live and breathe because of the capability of the people in them. So, firstly, make sure that you have people in the procurement process who know the fleet business inside and out, and secondly, ensure that their soft skills are up to scratch. Red hot communication can be difference between a good and great procurement. Forget about the importance of people at your peril.

Understanding need and delivering value - In many peoples' eyes procurement comes with a cost saving tag. So, set out how you are going to show stakeholders that you're there to help in the business of process optimisation and smarter fleet management. We often see procurement professionals frustrated about the challenges of trying to sell their services into the business, when the winners change tack and focus on educating stakeholders on the real value of procurement. By getting to know what the business needs you'll show clients how strategic procurement of fleet services can help to up their performance and - in doing so - make them look great!

Show how you are making a difference by benchmarking performance - We can all talk about improvements that we're planning to make, but cold, hard facts evidence whether what we have said is true. 

Benchmarking against internal performance scorecards - and other top performing organizations - is a sure fire way to show how the fleets performance is stacking up.  Benchmarking also means procurement doesn't rest on its laurels with gap analysis against world class practices highlighting the next steps that need to be taken to boost performance further.

Benchmarking is not simply about looking at other companies and documenting how other they manage their fleet. It should also look outside of fleet management and see how other categories of spend are tackling big questions.  Inspiration comes from inside as well as outside the fleet community, and take advantage of innovations in other industries.

Tackling the question of polished procurement in just over a page is a tough task. These three simple steps are a small part of the story in making procurement successful. Hopefully they are helpful and give you the chance to shine.

Authored by: Steven Schoefs