Daily Archives: August 16, 2015

How Should Your Procurement Department be Organized?

Earlier this week we talked about the importance of a Procurement Centre of Excellence (CoE) with functional excellence in key processes that can elevate the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization against its goals and objectives (as well as stating that this does not mean you form CoEs within CoEs as that’s just redundant), but this whole topic begs the question, how should the Procurement department be organized?

When it comes to a departmental organization, there are three common theories as to how a Procurement department should be organized, which included decentralized, centralized, and centre-led. These days most consultants either preach centralized or centre-led. There are advantages and disadvantages to each model, and the best model will depend on the needs of the organization and, often overlooked, the suitability of the organization to the CPO’s leadership style.

In a centralized Procurement model, all Procurement is directed through a single, central organization. This has many advantages as it allows corporate spend to be fully leveraged, sourcing processes to be standardized, team knowledge to be captured and documented, and best practices to be improved through continual execution by a central team. However, the localized expertise that was specific to a business unit is often lost, maverick buying increases when local site managers do not agree with the centrally mandated decisions (and there is no technology platform that can be used to enforce the decisions), and reaction time to localized disruptions increases.

In order to try and minimize, or negate these disadvantages, some of the more advanced Supply Management organizations moved to centre-led models to try and achieve the best of both worlds. In the centre-led model, the organization forms a a centralized procurement centre of excellence (COE) focused on corporate supply chain strategies and strategic commodities, best practices, and knowledge sharing that leaves individual buys and tactical execution of categories that are not worth sourcing centrally to the individual business units. With appropriate category balancing, the centre-led model is believed to provide the best of both worlds — all of the advantages of the centralized and classic decentralized model of Procurement with minimal disadvantages.

However, until the specific needs of the organization are analyzed and the management style of the CPO is taken into account, it is hard to say which model is better. For example, if the organization is very centralized in its operations, and the individual departments, or heads of, are all in the same geographic area, then the perceived disadvantages of centralization are not there. There are no geographically dispersed units that can easily ignore the directives from a centralized organization, no delayed reaction times as the centralized team can quickly interact with the individual departments, and the localized expertise can be involved whenever it is needed. Moreover, there’s nothing to prevent a centralized organization from having a centre of excellence. The centre of excellence (CoE) is simply part of the Procurement team that focusses on best practices, market intelligence, education, and support for the rest of the team.

So the answer is, it depends on what’s right for the organization, as long as what’s right is identified, and built, with the goal of enabling and supporting a CoE in mind.