Don't Let Your Office Supplies Provider Take Advantage of You

Even though for many who read this blog, strategic sourcing is just one elementary component of Spend Management -- and some might even argue a mature business model -- for many in the world, it's still a creative approach to doing business. I recently came across this article from Canada noting how one company in the office products world is completely refocusing its business model from selling supplies to providing "strategic sourcing and overhead cost control services to corporate customers."

In a press release explaining the rationale behind the refocus in strategy, "while Canadian business has been acutely sensitive to measuring and managing expenses related to core strategic capabilities, it is only now beginning to bring the same rigour to managing costs related to office supplies, such as pens, paper, furniture and peripheral technology, print and imaging."

In my view, outsourcing office supply management to a trusted third party can make sense. But keeping such providers honest is key. In my travels over the years, one of the areas where I've observed the most nefarious activity on the contract management side is office supplies. Many of these providers will attempt to sneak in price increases, will invoice over contracted value, and will generally pursue any means possible to improve their margins at your expense -- even if you've gone through a strategic sourcing exercise with them.

So if you're serious about going after office supplies and related categories, don't just go through a strategic sourcing exercise and implement a catalog procurement system -- systematically monitor and measure invoice and purchase order accuracy as well as supplier performance. And then send them the bill for what they owe you. Trust me, your post-sourcing efforts will more than pay for themselves.

Jason Busch

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