Struggling with bespoke purchases?

Published May 2020

1: Introduction

Sourcing of bespoke requirements needs to be managed effectively within an Organisation. Problems can arise when bespoke requirements are purchased directly by employees throughout the organisation or just “passed through” by overworked buyers who have no time to deal with the suppliers.

This can result in products and services being purchased across the organisation with no consistency of supply, sustainability or quality. Plus, the risk to a brand image from sourcing from unethical sources is an increasing problem for organisations.

Inefficiently sourcing bespoke goods and services can waste a lot of time and energy. Bespoke purchases can be sourced from a variety of suppliers at vastly differing prices, quality and approaches to corporate social responsibility.

So, how can an organisation effectively source bespoke requirements?

2: Bespoke requirements - key sourcing issues

Manual processes

Bespoke requirements are typically handled manually. This can be time-consuming. Often involving long drawn out processes of online searches, completing paper based or email requests and manually communicating with multiple suppliers. Plus, when data is input manually mistakes can occur more frequently. Resulting in higher purchase costs, errors and inefficiencies.

Measuring bespoke purchasing data

Getting meaningful data on bespoke purchases is hard. Often critical data is kept in individual spreadsheets and email folders scattered across the organisation. If information on purchases is hard to gather and incomplete, there is no spend visibility or control over the bespoke expenditure.

Sourcing outside of procurement systems

Bespoke purchases are often sourced outside of an organisations’ standard procurement automation tools. Simply because these tools were never designed to handle purchases of a bespoke nature. Even if an organisation has good processes in place, there will be no effective control of suppliers or spend for most of its bespoke goods and services.

Single source

Often bespoke goods and services are single-sourced based on web searches for potential suppliers; or, purchased from the same source every time. Buying in this way means that organisations are offered no price leverages and end up paying higher prices.

Damage to reputation

Often, with bespoke purchases, there is no supply chain visibility. Resulting in significant risk of damage to the reputation of your organisation.

Project based sourcing of bespoke items

Complex projects, involving many items, have a greater risk associated with them. As the project becomes more complex, the risks of making poor purchasing decisions, not achieving good value for money and not receiving high quality goods and services are all increased.

3: Sourcing Bespoke requirements the right way

So, let’s look at an approach for sourcing bespoke goods and services efficiently.

Critical is the procurement automation technology used. Selecting the tool appropriate for the job in hand. This can either be standalone or integrated to your current procurement systems to manage Bespoke requirements.

The solution has to be capable of capturing requirements and flexible enough to allow for a bespoke purchase. Providing enough free form and process changes to allow for the users to specify complex bespoke requirements.

The solution needs to engage with users, specific to their needs and requirements, yet at the same time ensure compliance to procurement policies of an organisation. Critical is the speed and flexibility at which the overall process transacts any requirement from sourcing activity through to payment.

Users should be able to create a structured closed bid RFx (RFQ/RFP) process. With support for multi-part projects sourced from single or multiple suppliers.

Users should be able to compare whether to single source an entire project or buy components from specialist vendors. It should be possible to create variances and quickly and easily assess ‘what-if’ scenarios.

Typically, these solutions are cloud-based. To allow for remote purchasing activity or activity associated with a specific project. Plus, capable of controlling costs at all the levels of the process from sourcing to procurement through to invoicing.

Robust approach

It should also be robust enough to handle a huge volume and wide variety of transactions including:

  • small value or volume transactions
  • project purchases (purchasing multiple items within a single project)
  • support for custom sourcing (ie RFx)
  • support for last-minute and urgent purchase requirements
  • different currencies and languages (for organisations operating in multiple countries)

In addition to being easy for users to use, any solution has to enable Procurement to establish and control suppliers and spending.

Note: for larger organisations, the supplier data does not need to be stored on the “bespoke” system. It can be stored on an ERP system. The platform should be ERP vendor agnostic.

4: Claritum's solution for bespoke procurement

At Claritum, we help clients procure a wide range of goods and services across many categories:

The Claritum solution is specifically designed to manage bespoke purchases and handle complex project based spend.

The solution supports. both repeat purchase activity and volume purchases of individually low-cost items.

With Claritum, users, suppliers and procurement experts can collaborate in the cloud. Achieving cost savings and efficiencies across a broad range of categories that are typically difficult to manage.

Get in touch with Claritum’s experts today and find out how you could improve the efficiency of your category, bespoke and project-based product and services spend.


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