Procurement Buy Desk Service – Part 1

The origin of the Procurement Buy Desk can likely be traced to the traditional service model of the IT Help Desk. Similar to the IT Help Desk, the concept of a Buy Desk promotes efficiency and effectiveness. The adoption of this service has been widespread as its benefits can extend to all functional areas within an organization. To understand the popularity of the Buy Desk, we need to understand a typical issue organizations face with their Procurement delivery model.

In Procurement, the efficiency of the Sourcing function is often hindered by large volume of low dollar transactions. A Sourcing manager typically devotes higher focus on more strategic and complex projects and consequently, the low dollar transactional requests continually get pushed back in priority. When these low dollar transactions are finally looked at – many times due to the requestors’ or stakeholders’ escalation to the CPO – two common scenarios are likely to occur.

  • The Sourcing manager performs a perfunctory review and papers the deal quickly to get back to the more strategic projects.
  • Any leverage opportunity with suppliers for more advantageous terms is lost.

The challenge is to counteract the bottlenecks arising from processing large, low-value, transactional volume. Implementing a Procurement Buy Desk alleviates these issues. The key advantages of a Procurement Buy Desk include:

  • Fast and efficient delivery of standard or less complex service
  • Consistent user experience across different transaction types
  • Visibility into transactions, projects, requests across all categories and business units
  • A single point of contact for Procurement
  • Ability to operate Service Level Agreement (SLAs)
  • Workload balance that allows for the processing of more transactional volume with fewer staffing resources

Assuming appropriate utilization, the Buy Desk can undoubtedly deliver immediate cost savings and/or generate resource capacity. From an investment perspective, a Buy Desk initiative may be a better option in the short to medium term than automation technology such as RPA.  A Buy Desk implementation can be lower cost and return quicker benefits – therefore, better ROI. Case in point, our JKA consultants have implemented multiple versions of Buy Desks to support a variety of scope across the Supply Chain spectrum for clients and these implementation efforts have yielded in-house efficiency improvement upward of 50% within a short 3-month timeframe.

Yes, the purpose of the Buy Desk is to establish an efficient and effective delivery service model but what each organization needs to successfully put one in place depends on its intentions. A few considerations are worth further exploration before implementing a Buy Desk initiative:

  • What is the difference between a Help Desk and a Service Desk? Which one is more reflective of your organization’s needs?
  • Would a local or centralized Buy Desk model work best for your organization?
  • Should your Buy Desk function be a Level 1 script based or more a Level 2-3 problem solving service?
  • Where can you apply the concept of a Buy Desk?
  • How did IT manage the KPIs, e.g. first response time, throughput, volume, spend and savings?

These insights are routinely incorporated into JKA’s Buy Desk solutions for clients. Further discussions on these topics are included within the context of JKA’s Procurement Buy Desk series.

Featured Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

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