“The corona crisis offers the purchasing department the chance to improve their standing within the company and it should use the opportunity,” explains Tanja Dammann-Götsch in a recent interview with the German purchasing trade journal MBI Einkäufer im Markt. Purchasers can act totally different at the moment. They are being heard even in those cases where they would have run up against a brick wall in the times before corona,” reports the purchasing trainer as the result of numerous discussions. For example, the second source: “I tell people to make good use of their time and to check their product groups. Where are the dependencies? In this case, build up a second source of supply. In earlier times, purchasing would have heard, “Why should we? We’ll get the parts in any case.” However, this situation has changed thanks to corona.”
She sees a huge potential in the subject of technical specifications. These are often defined so narrowly that only one single supplier can fulfill them. No wonder. Often the specification comes from the supplier himself. “Actually, this is something you shouldn’t tell anyone,” comments Dammann-Götsch. Such non-active suppliers are sometimes kept on file for decades without anyone ever thinking about them.
“In this case, it’s not even purchasing’s fault. It was just common practice in companies. In discussions about specifications, it gets down to the details,” explains the expert, who used to work as a purchaser in the automobile industry. “This is when it turns out whether the relationship to the supplier is a partnership or a dependent relationship. And if the supplier does not display any willingness to meet you part of the way, then purchasing needs to take counter-measures. In this conjunction, purchasing should liaise with quality assurance, production, logistics, product management, and sales.
Reservations on home office
The Sars-CoV-2 pandemic made purchasing aware of not only the vulnerability of global delivery chains. Purchasers also had to become used to a different way of working. It is no longer necessarily easy to drive or fly to visit a supplier. And many employees are in home offices. For the purchasing director, leadership in the home office was a real challenge, says Tanja Dammann-Götsch. “At the beginning of the crisis, I was surprised at how difficult it was for companies to get internal communication organized using digital tools. There were great reservations about the matter of the home office, above all in medium-sized companies who like to have their employees in their immediate environment. There was little acceptance in the beginning.” In the meantime, however, the managements have even recognized the benefits of home office and virtual meetings. “The companies are seeing what they are saving in the way of time and money.” You no longer have to board an airplane every month to visit a supplier or customer. And this trend is here to stay.”