Marketing Services procurement – Marketing directors want close contact with procurement

(We're delighted to have a guest post from Catherine Lawrence, Senior Category Manager, Professional Services and Marketing; and Graham Copeland, Sales and Marketing Director, both from leading outsourced service provider, Xchanging Procurement Services.)


Xchanging recently surveyed major firms across a number of sectors, including consumer goods and IT sectors.  We asked over 50 senior marketing executives how they felt about procurement and what they wanted from their procurement colleagues and functions. We wanted to find out what procurement departments are doing to add value today and what they could be doing to add value in the future.

The results showed that most marketing leaders want procurement to play a more integrated and strategic role in the business. And at the ProcureCon Indirect conference on 18th April, we will be hosting a workshop focusing specifically on the responses from our survey.

Survey respondents highlighted the positive contribution of their procurement departments towards cost reductions, reviewing terms and conditions and the general procurement process. In addition, they had a number of positive suggestions, including procurement co-locating with the marketing team and actively taking part in marketing projects.

However, they also identified three key areas for improvement.

Enhancing understanding of the marketing department:

Marketing directors want procurement departments to maximise their exposure to marketing. They said that they would like them to join their team for a period of time, and would welcome their input at internal meetings. Alternatively procurement departments could volunteer to work on marketing projects from conception through to launch; this way they can develop a better understanding of the key challenges that teams face.

Other options suggested included introducing post project debriefing sessions and ensuring that they were kept up to date with relevant market or supplier innovations. The key point is that marketing directors want procurement to become a trusted extension of their team. This will be mutually beneficial as it can also ensure that procurement becomes the first port of call for spend.

 Improving relationships with key suppliers:

It is important that procurement strengthen its understanding of the traits that marketing directors look for in their suppliers. This is essential as these traits tend to include creativity, team chemistry and other skills that tend to have a high value but are difficult to measure. If procurement teams are able to understand what motivates stakeholders, they will be in a better position to support them.

Marketing directors want procurement teams to maintain two-way feedback with all of their key suppliers. The suppliers should be in a good position to aid procurement teams in better understanding the market and identifying innovation, value improvements and cost reduction opportunities.

Helping marketing directors to understand their budgets and avoid unnecessary costs:

Finally, marketing directors want procurement departments to agree costs upfront with suppliers; this will ensure that all contracts are inclusive of any expenditure and that anything additional is agreed in writing. Departments should then ensure that a thorough review of invoices is undertaken to avoid payment of non-compliant charges.

 Marketing directors want to centralise control of their marketing spend, this can reduce any duplication of services and through consolidating spending they can maximise their buying power.

What this means for procurement

 A key theme arising from these findings is that marketing directors want procurement departments to play a more integrated and strategic role. It is clear that they recognise the importance of procurement in reducing costs, but they want to work closer to strengthen their relationships. Procurement professionals should welcome this enthusiasm, as it is through working together that we can maximise our benefit and play a more strategic role in companies today and in the future.

The full survey will be available from following the ProcureCon Indirect conference on 17/18th April.

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