Wie fit ist Ihr Einkauf?

In a series of ten regular posts published by the Procurement Leaders Global Intelligence Network I looked at the different facets to transform procurement to a partner of choice

Part 5 - business partner relationship management

2013-01-23 12:49

January 2013

Thought Leaders is a series of regular posts from experts from across
industries and regions, looking at the issues procurement faces today. This is
the fifth in a sequence of posts by former Deutsche Post DHL CPO, Hugo Eckseler
looking at new and innovative solutions to pave the way to the next performance
level in procurement.

A core element of supply chain management is the axiom that every involved
person or department forms part of an end-to-end process, working with business
partners on the upstream as well as on the downstream site. For Procurement
these partners are - in an admittedly very simplistic model – suppliers and
internal customers. The management of suppliers includes many facets from price
negotiations, performance evaluation and risk analysis all the way down to
innovation and collaboration management. You can find numerous blogs and articles
about Supplier Relationship Management
(SRM) in newsletters and internet forums and a full-fledged suite of methods
and software tools is available to support day-to-day operations as well as
strategic sourcing activities.

On the downstream site the landscape looks much less “inhabited” and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) still
plays an ancillary role on the agenda of procurement. Quite wrongly so from my
point of view: the transition of procurement from an “embedded” operational
function to a corporate service provider and the consolidation in centralized shared
services changes the relations and communication channels between procurement employees
and their internal customers fundamentally, as described in my former blogs on
procurement transformation [].

The new role of procurement requires a systematic approach to better understand
the expectations and concerns of the internal customers and to actively
communicate procurement activities, results and challenges in order to build
lasting partnerships with the key stakeholders. For many procurement employees
this is a major change of their mind-set and during my times as CPO we had to
spend significant time and effort on CRM trainings and the development of our
people to become “ambassadors” of their profession.

In order to institutionalize the cultural change we have applied “proven
path” tools and techniques that help to establish rapport, e.g.

  • Stakeholder analysis and key account management. By coincidence, Charles
    Dominick from Next Level Purchasing, Inc. has started this month a lively discussion on this subject at the LinkedIn forum Strategic Sourcing and Procurement; numerous
    comments show that the subject is close to the hearts of many procurement
    people and provide a good insight in common challenges and practices [].
    I found the proposal of Bernhard Hoeveler from Hoeveler Holzmann Consulting quite interesting who suggested in a recent discussion to assign that task to a core team of senior procurement managers with a broad background and a “sales” attitude - being backed by information from procurement category managers and other procurement specialists.
  • Regular Business Partner Satisfaction Surveys including a rigorous follow up on identified weaknesses and improvement opportunities.
  • Well-structured service reports based on KPIs tailored to the needs of the internal customers. A smart way is to place articles in communication channels of the business partners instead of using your own procurement newsletters only.
  • Information from key account meetings shared with the entire procurement team. The use of social media is obviously gaining momentum in this area as demonstrated by Egbert Hubmann from Bilfinger, an international engineering & service company, at the BME Symposium in Berlin last year.
  • Standardized presentation packages about procurement vision, strategy and activities to ensure that the procurement team speaks the same language around the globe.


Professional management of the relationships to internal customers has
become a top priority for CPOs, in particular in large and complex companies.
Many procurement organizations still seem to have a long way to go. But without
such initiatives it’s hard for procurement to get the attention of upper management and to earn a seat at the table.

Hugo Eckseler has been working more than thirty years as CPO and manager
in manufacturing, logistics and quality management at Deutsche Post DHL, 3M, WELLA
and other multi-national companies. Today he works as senior consultant looking
for innovative solutions in procurement and supply chain management.

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