Creative Collaboration.

March 9th, 2009

Did you ever hear the old saying if sense were common everyone would have it?

Well obviously in the procurement space internal collaboration would only seem to make common sense, but according to an Aberdeen Research Brief from April of 2008 titled Print and the (Collaborative) Revolution, that’s not always the case.

Collaboration with other internal departments is very critical for successful procurement strategies as it puts more spend available to suppliers resulting in potentially greater savings. Additionally, continuous process improvement strategies or sustainment initiatives may add additional savings that are commonly neglected in procurement ROI’s. According to Aberdeen, companies that collaborate save an average of 42% more than companies that do not.

Although this brief refers to the print category specifically, the process offered can easily be applied to all categories and for those companies that are creative, to the same categories at non competing companies. A huge opportunity in the retail space is for smaller companies to combine their purchase volumes in order to drive higher savings. This same process has been used for years buy wholesalers and collective buyers that buy in volume from manufacturers, store the products, and ship on demand to the retailers they support. The question this begs is; do these volume based savings always make it to the independent retailer?

An example might be in the area of supplies. The category might be plastic or paper bags or both. All companies use them, and often they are of different quality. A potential scenario might be that Company “A” a 10 store independent, and company “B” a 5 store independent whose market areas do not overlap combine their purchases. This offers a larger volume to suppliers that may not have considered the geographic area of one or the other of these companies. Additional work may be done by your e-procurement provider to find suppliers that can source both paper and plastic bags. This may not have been considered in the past, and may offer another opportunity for increased savings based on the combined higher volumes.

Under certain market conditions it may not be possible for both companies to save significantly. In fact the benefit may end up being a better product for the same price, which can increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Make sure your e-procurement provider offers tools that allow for aggregating purchase and collaborating internally and externally. Also make sure they have an adequate source of supply and can search it by category to enable these types of events. You may find a few dollars in savings that were not available to you in the past.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

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