By Jim Reed, director, Procurement, University of Nottingham
When I joined the procurement profession in 1999, people thought I must have been a failed salesperson, and had nothing more to give. Of course, this image of procurement could not be further from the truth, but then I would say that. What good procurement can actually do is the more interesting matter. It takes rigorous practices, an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong work ethic, but done properly, procurement can achieve incredible things for any business.
For any procurement task, it’s essential to remember: ‘get onto a project on day zero.’ When procurement enters the conversation from the start, visions become clear and more importantly, achievable and rather than slow things down procurement can make things happen.
Take for example our managed print service contract with Xerox. People said we were slow to go to market with our MPS tender. I prefer to say we were considered, and that it was more than worth it. I now have other universities ringing me, asking to see our print infrastructure and researching how they could implement something similar for themselves.
By carefully working out the state of our environment in advance, we accelerated the final decision making process, and made the market take us seriously too. By being slower at the front end, we were quicker at the back. Xerox created a bespoke managed print services model based on our requirements, and generated substantial costs savings every year, a 40% reduction in paper usage, and a 80% reduction in the amount of physical hardware we use with a consequent reduction in the power we use.
The results of this best practice are therefore clear. It’s a long way from the easy life, but for the contribution it makes, procurement managers wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jim is responsible for strategic direction and development of procurement strategy and policy at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Over a career spanning 30 years, he has built up a wealth of very relevant experience in senior procurement and quality assurance roles with Rolls Royce, Royal Mail and GEC.