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5 Strategies For Cost Reduction in Procurement To Improve Bottom Line

Vlad Falin

December 11, 2023

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Key Takeaways

It’s challenging to always be on your toes, looking for ways to cut costs. Be it negotiation or automating manual, time-consuming processes, your main focus is always to optimize expenses and improve the bottom line. This comprises 36% of CPOs whose top priority is delivering bottom-line savings. 

Hence, in this post, we will discuss the top 5 procurement cost reduction strategies. We’ll also discuss the process of getting started and ways to improve the procure-to-pay process to ensure procurement cost savings

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5 Cost-Saving Strategies in Procurement

Here are the top 5 cost reduction techniques in procurement that you can implement in the short and long run:

1. Reduction in Maverick Spending

Reduction in Maverick Spending

Maverick spending refers to expenses beyond the established policy and procurement process. It involves unauthorized purchasing that is either not approved or doesn't adhere to the pre-approved vendors or negotiated contracts. 

Such expenses impact financial and operational efficiency, leading to budget overruns and supplier relationship strain. For instance, an employee purchases office supplies from a non-approved vendor. It can lead to higher costs due to a lack of negotiated discounts and impact the organization's ability to leverage consolidated spending for better terms and conditions.

To reduce maverick spending, you must actively communicate procurement policies to avoid such expenses. You must monitor all the transactions and address any such instances. This requires greater visibility into the spending at each stage and an analysis of how company resources are being used. You will also need to set spending controls based on the company policies to avoid constant monitoring. 

Purchase request flow

As a result, you gain better control over the procurement process, negotiate better contracts with preferred suppliers, and leverage volume discounts without disrupting the supply chain. This will help you maintain compliance with established procurement policies and save costs by avoiding unauthorized expenses. 

2. Contract Management

Contract management involves reassessing the existing contracts and negotiating supplier agreements. This includes negotiation, execution, and ongoing monitoring to ensure cost optimization.

Contract Management

To ensure strong contract management practices, regularly revisit contract terms, assess performance metrics, and proactively identify areas for improvement. Prioritize negotiation preparation by investing in training for procurement professionals, ensuring they possess the skills to secure favorable terms and adapt agreements to evolving business needs. 

Contract management aids in maximizing the value of agreements, minimizing risk, and ensuring that suppliers deliver as per the agreed terms. It also promotes better relationship management and identifies opportunities for cost optimization.

3. Request Specification

Request Specification

Request specification involves creating clear and detailed specifications for the goods or services that the organization intends to procure. This involves detailing purchase requests and understanding the needs of the teams to deliver what they need and not spend money on unnecessary features and misfit products. This helps ensure suppliers understand the exact requirements, leading to more accurate quotes and better value for money.

To ensure detailed request specifications, involve all the stakeholders in the approval process and get buy-in from each of them. Follow a standardized approval workflow to raise purchase requests. This ensures consistency and gets the maximum information possible. However, it is important to implement customized workflows to suit your business hierarchies.

hierarchies

This reduces the risk of feature overlap and better consolidates the purchases for negotiating more favorable deals. Moreover, the specificity of needs lowers the chances of cost overruns or disputes during the procurement process.

4. Spending Consolidation

Consolidating spending means automating procurement processes to achieve economies of scale. This includes consolidating purchases, standardizing suppliers, and leveraging bulk buying power. Doing so lets you negotiate better terms with suppliers, reduce administrative overhead, and achieve cost savings through volume discounts.

For instance, if you consolidate spending on packaging materials by sourcing from a single supplier, you negotiate bulk discounts, streamline procurement processes, and benefit from standardized materials. This approach reduces costs through economies of scale, simplifies logistics, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Spending Consolidation

To consolidate spending, conduct a thorough spend analysis, identify opportunities for consolidation, and negotiate with suppliers for better terms. Additionally, implement procurement software to streamline procurement processes. This will give you insights into your spending behaviors and help you identify optimization opportunities. Also, create a cross-functional procurement team to promote collaboration and standardization across the organization. Moreover, ensure proper cross-functional workflows to get stakeholders involved at each stage. 

5. Vendor Diversity

Vendor Diversity

Vendor diversity involves engaging with various suppliers to reduce dependency on a single source. This strategy ensures increased competition, better negotiation opportunities, and improved risk management.

For instance, having vendor diversity enables you to source materials from multiple suppliers rather than relying solely on one. This creates competition among suppliers, encouraging competitive pricing and service levels to mitigate risks associated with potential disruptions from a single supplier. Hence, in the event of supply chain challenges or fluctuations, you get the flexibility to maintain production and minimize the impact on operations.

To ensure vendor diversity, adopt a global sourcing strategy and conduct thorough market research to identify potential suppliers across the globe with clear criteria for supplier selection. Additionally, actively seek partnerships with businesses that bring unique strengths to your supply chain. Moreover, it is important to also regularly reassess and diversify your supplier portfolio to ensure adaptability to changing market dynamics. Fostering open communication to build strong, collaborative relationships with various suppliers is a must

As a result, you get better pricing, quality, and innovation. It also provides a safety net if one supplier faces disruptions or fails to meet expectations.

Three-Step Process for Cost Reduction in Procurement

Before implementing these strategies, go through this strategic process each time you have to hunt down expenses for cost savings:

1. Analyze Spend

Analyze Spend

Start by conducting a comprehensive spending analysis to understand where the money goes. Use financial records, invoices, and procurement data to categorize and analyze spending patterns. In such cases, having procure-to-pay software helps a lot in getting insights and real-time visibility.

This step provides a clear overview of the organization's spending habits, allowing identification of areas for potential cost savings. It serves as a foundation for informed decision-making in subsequent cost-reduction strategies.

2. Identify the Biggest Expense

Compare across departments or suppliers to identify the largest expenses or categories and spot any unusual expenses. This step allows for targeted efforts in cost reduction.

Discuss these insights with relevant stakeholders to understand why these costs exist and their impact. Also, align the understanding of ‘savings’ with them to avoid unnecessary delays and rejections. It is advisable to align it with something measurable to make it easier to sell the business case and implement the necessary changes. 

For instance, the information technology (IT) department proposes investing in new software that, in the long run, promises increased efficiency and reduced maintenance costs. However, the finance team, focused on immediate budget constraints, may interpret ‘savings’ as strictly short-term cost reductions rather than considering long-term benefits. 

To align understanding, the IT team can quantify long-term savings through reduced downtime, improved productivity, and potential scalability benefits. This ensures both departments share a common definition of ‘savings’ and facilitates a collaborative decision-making process.

Additionally, you can target the smaller spend or tail-end spend as well. It is easier to cut people from making one-off purchases or buying small items on Amazon that another department may have. 

3. Conduct Market Research and Maintenance

Conduct market research to understand current pricing, trends, and available alternatives for the identified major expenses. Based on your research, you can optimize these expenses without impacting the supply chain. This includes incentives such as:

  • Use spending data analysis to negotiate improved terms with suppliers. Seek discounts or bundled services to reduce costs without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Research alternative suppliers or vendors for the identified major expenses. Assess their offerings, pricing, and reliability to diversify options and secure more cost-effective alternatives.
  • Invest in automation to optimize procurement processes, reducing administrative overhead without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Analyze inventory levels and adjust ordering practices based on demand forecasts to prevent overstocking or stockouts.
  • Regularly monitor the expenses and supplier performance and reassess strategies to adjust optimization efforts based on changing market conditions and organizational needs.

Keep updating this information to stay informed about changes in the market. This ensures that you are well-informed about competitive pricing and industry trends. Additionally, you get the necessary data to negotiate better terms with suppliers, explore cost-effective alternatives, and adapt to market fluctuations, contributing to more strategic and informed decision-making.

How to Ensure Maximum Procurement Cost Reduction

Most companies have procurement processes running on autopilot with standard operating procedures. However, this leads to inconsistent efforts of procurement teams in reducing costs. They have to dedicate hours to analysis and optimization, which can be changed with intentional efforts to ongoing cost savings practices in procurement. 

However, with traditional manual processes, getting real-time visibility and comprehensive insights is impossible. To streamline the process and consolidate the expenses, you must adopt tools that support your cost savings initiative. This means centralizing all the information to build a unified platform for complete visibility and control. 

Pluto simplifies this for you. Not only do you get insights and controls, but you can also create cross-functional workflows to facilitate the collaborative procurement process. You can integrate your entire accounting and accounts payable system onto a single platform and streamline the entire process. As a result, you get real-time visibility and can optimize expenses in time.  

Book a demo to know more about how Pluto fits into your business and helps you streamline your procurement process for collaborative cost-saving efforts.

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