5 ways SMEs can think like a blue-chip when managing their supply chain

Whether it’s out of choice in a bid to work progressively smarter, or it has been unavoidable due to the mounting economic pressures of recent times, a number of organisations large and small have thrown the rule book out the window when it comes to running their business.

They’ve investigated – and in many cases completely overhauled – virtually every area of their operations, to reduce waste, increase efficiencies, boost productivity, strengthen morale, improve their customer service, and enhance their bottom line.

Multiple blue-chip companies – including enterprises within our own customer base with the help of OfficeTeam – have conducted such analysis at scale, mindful that ‘the way things have always been done’ shouldn’t necessarily represent how things work from this point forward.

And many savvy SMEs have mirrored this trend. At the same time, however, there are other small to medium sized businesses that may envy the ability to work through such an exercise, constrained perhaps by teams which don’t have the resource to undertake the research required.


So, when it comes to managing a supply chain, how can an SME think like a blue-chip procurement team?

Here are 5 tips from OT Group’s CEO, Andrew Jones, to get you started:

1. Develop a tail end spend mindset

Low value spend is often unmanaged within organisations, not least because it doesn’t neatly sit into any defined procurement categories. But these unclassified transactions – which typically make up 20% of spend – often account for 80% of an organisation’s suppliers.

The invisible nature of such purchases means the opportunities for savings are usually overlooked, and worse still, rogue spending can also take place without anyone noticing.

The better management of tail end spending may feel like a luxury for a small business, but often the ROI that can be achieved from supply chain savings and the prevention of budget leakage, means the exercise soon pays for itself.

2. Define ROI

Think what great ROI would look like for your organisation – is it cost reductions, improved process efficiencies that free up resource for more meaningful activities, the prevention of waste, risk aversion, better compliance or greater visibility on the path to growth. All of these benefits – and more – are achievable, so by defining the goals of the exercise, it’s easier to justify making a change.

3. Establish workflows

This isn’t about creating work for work’s sake – we know most teams are busier than ever. Nor is it suggesting the micro-management of colleagues. However, by introducing some simple approvals processes – which can be managed by technology if the right procurement engine is in place – it is possible to ensure the right people, purchase the right products and services, at the right time, of the desired quality, and within an agreed budget.

4. Think about the role of procurement tech

Organisations of all shapes and sizes have grown to rely on tech more than ever, particularly since the onset of the pandemic. And this is one of the many reasons why OfficeTeam has continued to invest so heavily in SmartPad – an online procurement platform that, three years ago, was little more than a pipedream to help businesses buy smarter. Now, it’s the industry’s leading procurement engine, packed with intuitive features and wraparound support.

From user defined profiles and self-service capabilities, to clever repeat order functionality, market price benchmarking, and game changing business intelligence, everything exists within an easy-to-use tool, that was purposefully designed to address the procurement profession’s needs.

5. Develop trusted relationships

With smarter tail end spend management and procurement processes, inevitably comes a desire to build trusted relationships with suppliers – even for products and services which were previously dismissed as low value. This is crucial to businesses being able to attend to their core operations and run their organisation, without valuable resource being bogged down in the minutiae of administration and growth-limiting tasks.

This is not an aspiration limited only to large corporates, so selecting a trusted supplier – or suppliers – able to remove this headache, is key.

To discuss any of the advice featured here, or to chat through your own supply chain management, please click here to contact one of our supply chain team.

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