Client satisfaction is the one facet of the procurement sector that hasn’t changed one jot in recent years – however while other company departments have moved on and become more technically advanced, procurement may have not fully kept up with the pace and there is a real need for it to speed up and catch up in general, writes George Vassiliades, director of GP General Procurement (GenPro), a company of Columbia Shipmanagement.
We are looking at the most turbulent decade in shipping, in values, changes in fortunes, new forms of shipowning, technology changes, cost expectations, efficiencies and reporting requirements to name just a few.
The changes are still ongoing and procurement is certainly no exception. We have seen a fundamental shift in the nature, style and methodology of procurement. Owners are more than ever increasing their reporting requirements, vendors are becoming more professional in their sales approach and our competitors are also professionalising – buying technological improvements which we have seen come to the forefront.
Increasing digitalisation has helped procurement departments to move faster recently and enabled them to keep pace with ever-changing industry demands and parameters. We now have a wider range of data available in real time while digitalisation enables us to move faster in order to keep pace with ever-changing industry demands and parameters.
It is up to procurement departments to adapt to change. Just when you think you have got there, you realise you have to move on again and I think that if you are changing reasonably regularly that is a sign that you are ‘there’ even if you are on the move. In my opinion, procurement professionals need set-ups and strategies that are relevant and compelling.
The key quality in the relationship between procurement departments and their suppliers is human relations. It is the necessary ingredient in everything we do and the way we move and the flexibility we exercise. Though technological advances make a difference, they are there to support us and not change our expectations.
Suppliers and service providers are a critical component of our business and hence the relationship is of major importance not only to the success of the procurement process but also to the health of our business. The performance of suppliers and service providers is reflected in the required and timely delivery of supplies and services, the level of services provided and the defined quality at the desired pricing.
The best foundation for a relationship must be built I feel on respect and trust that can eventually lead to mutual benefit. However, with the desired level of chemistry both sides need to invest in their commitment thus allowing a resilient relationship to evolve.
How big a role does cost play in the relationship? At Columbia we deal with selected suppliers of good reputation, professional calibre and high standards. This enables us to judge the quality of the supply. And after that we consider costs – and by looking at the cost we can ensure we optimise our procurement strategy and simultaneously maximise our savings.