ProcureCon Indirect – SRM with Les Ball (and Others)

How do the largest and top-performing firms address the key issue of Supplier Relationship Management, what tools do they use and what are the other critical success factors for making SRM work?

We’re only a month away from the ProcureCon Indirect event on May 10th-12th, and SRM is one of the topics being addressed over the three days in Amsterdam.  It is a packed agenda, which you can download here, with many highlights, and some big name speakers and panellists covering all aspects of “indirect” procurement, which these days covers more and more of the overall procurement picture.

We caught up with one of those big names last week. Les Ball is based in Switzerland as VP SCM EMEA Region & Worldwide Global Sourcing for the Eaton Corporation, a huge ($20 billion annual turnover) industrial firm who provide power systems and other engineering equipment for automotive, aerospace and other sectors. Ball is a panel member for a discussion at the event titled “How can you use SRM (supplier relationship management) tools to effectively engage with both your suppliers and your business areas”?

He was keen to stress when we spoke that he won’t be giving a formal presentation, but will prompt discussion around how procurement can develop SRM programmes that are robust, sustainable and deliver value.

“We’re in an interesting position at Eaton because we both have strategic suppliers ourselves, and we are also a strategic supplier to our large customers such as major Automotive and Aerospace OEM players", he says. That gives the Eaton procurement function the chance to learn from – and contribute to - the sales side of the business as well as the supply side.

Eaton have segmented their suppliers to focus SRM effort on the key providers, as you might expect, and have a number of home-grown tools. “We use scorecards which are not just about productivity and cost but look at issues like innovation, and quality improvement as well”.  But, as Ball explains, “you might have the best tools but you need the right processes, and if the culture is not right to deploy SRM and keep the momentum going, you won’t capture the benefits”.

Many of us know how true that is from past experience, and as he says, when 60% or more of your total cost base is spent with suppliers, “it is essential that they understand their role, and how their performance can contribute to our business success”.

So, that sounds like one of many sessions to look forward to next month – you can look at the agenda here and we’re pleased that as a partner of the event, the organisers have offered an exclusive 15% discount off the full price to our readers.  Book your place online - with code SPM15 and get 15% off the full ticket price.

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