To optimise costs and to build customer loyalty, more and more companies are preferring to hire an expert in purchasing strategy. The latter is responsible for studying, analysing and proposing an effective strategy to optimise the purchasing process.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FIRMS?

Purchasing consulting experts are involved in the areas of purchasing, positioning strategy, research and business development. They are also there to advise you on your alliances and partnerships.

Today, many consulting firms offer their services to companies. They can be classified in three categories, namely :

– Large national and international groups: they have already acquired a reputation in the field and their skills are well established. Thus, they can deal with any problem. The service is provided by young consultants under the supervision of competent seniors. However, the service is often expensive.

– Regional consulting firms or medium-sized firms: they have a smaller structure, but some of them are very well versed in the sector, with a broader range of skills. Thanks to their small size, they are more flexible and the service is often more affordable compared to large networks.

– And the independent consultants or micro firms: these are the professionals with more specialized skills who offer the cheapest rates. What are their advantages? They have a strong expertise in purchasing strategy. But the only drawback is that they cannot manage your project from A to Z.

WHAT ARE THE MISSIONS OF CONSULTING FIRMS?

The main role of purchasing consultants is to find an effective solution as quickly as possible to make savings in the purchasing department without this having an impact on the quality of the products. The consulting firm therefore has a broader vision and is able to provide tailor-made solutions.

To carry out its mission and to target the needs of its customers, it must first carry out an audit. This step will enable it to make an in-depth study of the company’s purchasing process and to identify future optimisation levers. In the same way, the consultant will also make sure that the balance between cost, product quality and the privileged relations between buyers and suppliers is respected. This is above all the biggest flaw in many companies.

Afterwards, the consultant will proceed to the drafting of the findings that he will then submit to the company’s purchasing department. Together, they will try to define the right strategies to adopt to boost purchasing performance. Once the action is determined, the firm will accompany its client in the implementation of the strategy. The intervention of an expert guarantees the success of the project.

The consultant also has an orientation mission, to guide and advise business leaders in the steps they wish to take. To do so, he may be led to give recommendations and evaluate the result. Finally, he can play the role of negotiator during a call for tenders.

In general, four types of intervention can be distinguished:

– capacity subcontracting: for a specific need of purchasing personnel

– Specialty subcontracting: this may concern part or all of the purchasing family.

– technical assistance

– and organizational assistance

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A BUYING OFFICE?

Using a purchasing agency means making great savings on your purchases. Undoubtedly, the intervention of an expert is aimed at reducing costs, which will allow the company to increase its margins or allow its customers to benefit from a more advantageous price.

In addition, the pricing can be adapted to all needs. Indeed, the mission can be remunerated on the savings achieved, evaluated as a percentage. However, the cost may also be calculated per day or per overall assignment.

Other motivations can also push the companies to call upon a purchasing consulting firm:

– Expertise: by hiring an expert, managers can easily achieve the expected results. It will also bring skills and experience that are not available internally to optimise purchasing.

– Objectivity: having an external vision is always necessary to facilitate decision making.

– Confidentiality: consultants are bound by professional secrecy. So companies can have peace of mind on this subject. In case of disclosure of confidential information, they can take legal action.

– Saving time: employees who are relieved of certain tasks can concentrate on points that they are familiar with.

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR PURCHASING STRATEGY CONSULTING FIRM?

Before proceeding with the search for a purchasing strategy consulting firm, the needs and objectives of the company should first be defined. Study point by point the reasons that lead you to contact a professional and define the resources available. Put all the details in an engagement letter or specifications. Then quantify your objectives.

Then list 3 or 4 service providers and request a face-to-face interview or a conference call. It is highly recommended to meet the consultant who will be in charge of your company, if you want to collaborate with a large firm. Then, compare the profiles taking into account the following elements:

– Skills and experience: this is a very important point to guarantee you an efficient work! Indeed, you should turn to an expert who has been working in the sector for many years. If you have any doubts, ask him/her for a justification of these former assignments.

– References: don’t be afraid to ask for references from your service provider and check that the firm has already dealt with activities similar to yours!

– The human quality: does your consultant have the ability to listen? Does he or she understand the assignments you entrust to him or her? Does he have good communication skills? Does he have the right attitude? You must be at ease with the consultant, otherwise it is likely to affect the mission.

– The price: for the same service, compare the costs. You may have surprises, because they can vary from simple to double. In any case, beware of overly attractive offers.

– The financial situation: even if it seems ridiculous, prevention is better than cure. Work only with professionals who are financially sound. Otherwise, you may be in for some surprises. What’s the point of using a consultant who isn’t fully invested in the work he or she has been assigned?

Also, it would be wiser to avoid collaborating with a firm that takes on your competitors’ projects!