Recently I responded to a post on LinkedIn from a fellow pest control specialist. He was bemoaning the rise of the ‘procurement specialist’. In fact, he didn’t mean all procurement specialists, just those who work for “soulless” corporations and have a “vested interest in reducing cost but zero interest in getting a job done.”
I have to say, I couldn’t agree more. Working with large corporations can be highly rewarding, and I don’t just mean financially. A well-run business is a well-run business and if a corporation is well-run then everyone working within it will know what they want and how to explain that to the service provider.
Good companies want to work with good companies. A well-run business of any size will only want to work with a contractor that is able to safely complete a task on time and at an agreed price. In essence, they are looking for a quality service. This is why Cleankill is proud to be independently certified by organisations such as Alcumus SafeContractor, Constructionline and CHAS.
However, write “problems with procurement” into Google and you will quickly find that too many companies are not getting what they want because their procurement solution is failing them. Common problems include poor planning, inaccurate needs analysis, inadequate vendor management and sourcing and an underdeveloped contract management process.
The problem isn’t procurement per se. Having a dedicated team to ensure a business is supplied with everything it needs makes a lot of sense. The problem comes when there is a disconnect between the person doing the procuring and the people who actually need the service. If they don’t really understand what is needed and why, then they are likely to procure a solution that is inadequate.
How might this happen?
My friend on LinkedIn put it very well: “they wany the moon on a stick … for tuppence ha’penny.”
I recognise the story he tells of a procurement specialist for a big brand who wants a quality service (no problem, that’s what we do), but then also wants to add in weekly update meetings, free proofing work, free surveys for new sites, etc. etc.
Now, there is nothing wrong with the client coming to you with a list of requirements. In fact, we welcome it, but expectations must come with a dose of reality. Every add-on takes time and costs money, and that can’t be satisfied by the privilege of working with a big name. Inevitably, if your job is to procure maximum service for minimal cost, something will have to give and that will be quality.
I’ve asked the question before: “are you getting what you pay for?” In that case, I was referring to clients who engage a contractor but then receive an inferior service. However, it isn’t always because the service provider is at fault. If the contract is too restrictive in terms of expectations versus recompense, the contractor will be forced to make cuts in order to make the contract financially viable. This will ultimately result in poor work, unhappy technicians and dissatisfied clients. Both parties in the contract will be left with a bad taste in their mouth, but really the issue wasn’t the operational staff working for the client or the technicians trying to do a good job, it was the fact the procurement process had delivered a solution that was unworkable.
Who has won?
In my experience, only one group of people win in this scenario – procurement specialists. They get rewarded for delivering a cheap solution, but they don’t have to deal with the consequences.
At this point, I must stress this is not every procurement specialist. We work with plenty of companies who have excellent procurement departments. What makes them different is their focus is on getting the job done properly. Obviously, it is also their responsibly to ensure costs are minimised, and I respect that because that is also my responsibility. What they are not doing is just finding a way to tick a box that says a job has been done without thinking about the repercussions.
As a company, Cleankill is righty proud of the way we work with other business. We’ve taken the time to build strong relationships with businesses of all sizes and across a wide range of industries. We will walk away from an ‘opportunity’ to work with a company if it is apparent they will not give us the necessary time, support and recompense to do the job to our high standards.
The ultimate goal is a job done well and at a price that keeps both parties happy. It should be a simple equation, but it’s amazing how often you talk to a procurement specialist who doesn’t get it.