Proxima – a view on procurement outsourcing from across the Atlantic

My colleagues at Spend Matters US are brilliant at their “deep dives” on particular procurement solution providers – often software, but also outsource service providers and similar.

Recently, they’ve published a four part series looking at Proxima, the London headquartered procurement outsourced service provider. Proxima have grown strongly in the US as well as the UK, with global clients such as Universal Music to the fore. I’ve known the firm for many years, back to their buyingTeam days and even earlier when they were more of a consulting cost reduction firm. So it was fascinating for me to see how Jason Busch (who runs Spend Matters US)  perceives them - he has got to know them more recently, without my historical knowledge.

In his analysis, he compares them pretty directly with US based giants such as Accenture, and Procurian who are probably the closest US parallel to Proxima (you may remember they both went through name changes at about the same time earlier this year!)  Jason identifies one of the Proxima key competencies and selling points as “customer intimacy” and gives a good example from a discussion with a client reference.

Proxima bills its top differentiator as "client intimacy," which includes "tailoring services for each client" and sees this in marked contrast to others that tout "operationally efficient" operating models. In our discussion with a strongly opinionated reference account (a senior executive with oversight of multiple functions, including procurement) for Proxima, this intimate yet opinionated approach came through loud and clear... In particular, the deciding factors in going with Proxima over other non offshore-based firms (the Indian BPOs were not considered) centred on deep category expertise and specialist capability (e.g., in different sub-categories). In particular, the manner in which Proxima applied key contract experts to such areas as marketing, IT and finance-based spending was important to the overall decision.

As usual, Jason is scrupulously fair and he also identifies some aspects which might be perceived as weaknesses by some potential clients – such as Proxima’s lack of a standardised sourcing or P2P technology platform. This wasn’t an issue for the reference site, but as he says  “other companies may feel differently about the level of technology and platform support that a BPO partner should bring as part of a core offering”.

Spend Matters US has published three pieces on Proxima on our US free to access website here, here and here. There’s also a detailed and invaluable analysis on our subscription site, Spend Matters PRO, here, which looks at how Proxima match up against competitors, and what types of organisations should seriously consider short-listing the firm if you are in the market for outsourced procurement services.

 

See our new Spend Matters search4 procurement website with great procurement job opportunities here!

 

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