The unusual, but effective customer-centric procurement solution

February 13, 2017 Katy Roberts

What do you find at the root of a customer-centric procurement strategy? The answer to that is most-likely Talmix consultant Christina Wiharto. A consummate professional who has been instrumental in developing global procurement strategies and implementing them for organisations such as Sainsbury’s, FSCS and Network Rail. Christina shares her thoughts on why having a customer-centric procurement strategy together with a proven flexible framework and practical approach, is helping her clients optimise their growth plans. 

“I’m very customer-centric”, she tells me. “It sounds normal – but in the procurement field, it very seldom is!” Christina has been living and breathing procurement from her very first job as a Textile Product Manager for a German retailer, after completing her Textile Engineering & Design degree. From the start of her career, Christina has been involved in supplier management in some shape or form. Whether she was procuring  cooperate services such as for marketing, facility management, HR and Finance  or whether she was working with teams to identify new retail products in the Far East and Europe, Christina has operational and strategic procurement embedded into her consulting makeup – serving as a platform on which she bases her consulting services today. 

An opportunity with UK retailer Sainsbury’s saw Christina join a team of people to set up their Global Sourcing operation. “We were all new to the general merchandising department. We had no products, no suppliers, no warehouses. The buyers didn’t know how much to buy, when to buy or where to get it from. It was my team’s job to set all of this up from scratch, which meant creating procurement procedures and templates but also, identifying and validating potential suppliers and walking around factories in China to identify new product ranges and trends – the entire operating model! The best part of doing this was the opportunity to set up something completely new and help people to align it with the overall corporate goals, vision and roadmap”, she tells me. 

Christina has since gone on to work with other market leaders such as Network Rail and Bunzl Catering Supplies where her achievements included establishing new purchasing teams, processes and strategies, negotiating spend budgets of more than a million pounds, leading tenders for complex contracts, managing teams of 20+ internal stakeholders, upskilling across all organisational levels and, of course, producing and exceeding cost saving targets.  Improving procurement operations is her passion. Suffice to say, Christina knows what she is doing and is an exemplary addition to any procurement-focussed organisation. 

“Procurement is not often a well-loved function! People tend to work with suppliers they like, but procurement is all about finding how the money spent creates the value desired, to become more efficient,  and finding out what the internal customer  needs and serve them so that  the whole organisation can excel. On a human-basis, procurement is a constant struggle between deciding on whether we have the best supplier for the job vs a comfortable incumbent . That’s why there’s often a resistance to change. But you need to understand the individuals point of view, (and that’s where the customer centricity comes in), as changing suppliers can be destabilising and it’s only the optimal combination of cost and reliability that actually delivers value to the internal customer. Ensuring that the change is executed well by partnering with the internal customer is crucial to overcoming resistance. As a procurement specialist, managing resistance has always been part of my natural environment. There’s always something we have to deal with, change and improve, in order to deliver. In many cases, procurement data is weak. Many organisations don’t often have sufficiently robust spend data, or the controls on how much people spend which means that it’s very difficult for them to implement any kind of improvement strategy. That’s where I can help as well”, she says. But it goes beyond simply measuring data. Data is great – but without an empathetic procurement specialist like Christina to interpret the figures and ensure the implemented change sticks, your chance at cutting costs, building a reliable supplier network, smoothing out procurement practices and more, is very low.  

Christina’s rich personal heritage holding ties to UK, Indonesia, China, Germany means that she offers her clients a truly international view on their procurement strategies. And as a procurement specialist, transforming the cost bases of the organisations she works with whilst bringing your teams with her, and adding value as someone who can strategise but also practically implement working solutions, is a winning recipe that Christina is proud to offer. 

If your organisation is due a procurement refresh, then it’s time you connect with consultants like Christina who understands your business and will help you to achieve your vision. Speak to Talmix today, about getting started. 

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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