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Building Blocks

Purchasing strategy

Virtually everyone wanted to change to a more expensive raw material - an independent and impartial specialist was needed to define the correct strategy.

The client employs around 800 staff with sales of c£80m pa and was experiencing a number of difficulties with customers regarding product quality:


  1. Some products were arriving at customers with refurbishment needs.

  2. Others were developing issues once they were with the customer.

  3. Certain products were deteriorating over the first few months.


This was causing major issues at Board level and the lower tiers of management were all convinced that an alternative raw material should be used.  It was said to be a much more stable product and would eliminate most of the problems mentioned.  The material was in ready supply – but was much more expensive and making the transition would cost around £1m pa based on today’s prices and level of demand.


Virtually everyone concerned at the client thought that the change should be made; from the production operators to the CEO.  The only dissenting voice was the Group Operations Director.  He was ultimately responsible for making the decision and felt that before this type of expenditure was agreed it would be prudent to get an independent assessment, hence the requirement for a consultancy project and Jeff Holt was asked to undertake the work.


The scope was very wide – essentially anything that could help the company to make the correct decision. This included:


  • Manufacturing trials to establish the root cause of the problems.

  • Investigative work involving a number of raw material suppliers.

  • Determining the exact nature of quality issues experienced by the customer.

  • Speaking to competitors in the same market, in confidence, but using a consultants network to good effect.


This was a highly technical project that required Jeff Holt to become the “raw material expert” within a very tight time-scale.  


Upon establishing the facts, it became clear that staff were frustrated with having to deal with the problems – but the problems were NOT due to the type of raw material being used.  


A highly comprehensive and detailed report was drawn-up and presented.  This contained the main recommendation that the existing material should be retained, but that a series of changes had to be made to reduce the quality-related issues in-line with the norm for the market.  Staff were instructed to persevere with the current material and from that day onwards the demand for change simply disappeared.  


This was a project where a completely impartial view from an industry specialist who was prepared to back-up the recommendations with the data to support them showed the team the correct direction to take.


The transition to the alternative raw material would have cost the business around £1,000,000 pa on current prices/demand and this expenditure was on the verge of being agreed just prior to the project taking place.  The presentation of the facts and recommendations, coupled to developing a level of trust with the stakeholders were the main reasons why the project was successful and the correct strategy was adopted.


GROUP PURCHASING EXECUTIVE - "Since your work we have not had one single request to change our raw material.  It’s a good thing that we didn’t do it or we would be wasting an absolute fortune."

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