For a new company, buying office supplies is as simple as going down to the nearest superstore or filling an order on their Web site. However, as your business grows, you'll need the efficiency that a more detailed procurement program brings. Here are some key things to consider when moving to the next level:
- Evaluate current practices and identify areas that can be improved.
- Formalize a procurement policy that spells out who is authorized to buy what and from whom.
- Work with preferred suppliers who can fulfill many of your procurement needs and offer better pricing for bulk purchasing.
Define prioritiesLook at where you are spending the most money and which suppliers are getting the highest percentage of your spend. Streamline processes, examine how orders are placed or what controls need to be revamped.
Hone your skillsWhile small business owners typically wear many hats, perfecting purchasing practices means bolstering organizational, business analysis, negotiation and a host of other skills.
Think about adding staffIf you don't have enough time to take on the work that comes with implementing a procurement strategy properly, it may be time to boost your head count and hire folks who can manage this portion of the business.
Automate your purchasing practicesTechnology and the Web now make it easier to roll up these activities, track spending and manage suppliers.
- Benchmark progress. Set deadlines for reaching certain goals, and as those deadlines approach, look at what the impact has been on your business. How much money or time have you saved? How are your suppliers meeting customer service level agreements? Where improvements are still needed?
- Monitor the market. Some industries are more susceptible to changes in the broader markets, so it's a good idea to stay on top of changing business conditions. for example, follow current supply and demand trends.