Chapter 3: Managing the Purchasing Process

July 16, 2017

Most buyers rated in the Better Buying pilot are providing enough time for production and are accountable for ensuring adequate time when they make changes/miss deadlines
    Managing the purchasing process is all about ensuring the time suppliers need for production is offered and/or a dependency on subcontracted facilities.
    The average score for managing the purchasing process was 4.5 stars, but the range of scores was one of the largest seen in any category. The lowest rating was just half of one star, and the highest rating received was 5 stars.
    Time and action calendar, the terms of the purchase order provided enough time).
    Where we see more challenges arising for suppliers is in buyers’ actual adherence to milestones in the time and action calendar. Almost one in each of four ratings (23.5%) indicated 100% of the calendar deadlines were met. Over 35% of the ratings showed that nearly all (90-99%) of the calendar deadlines were met. Ten percent are hitting 69% or less of the deadlines.

    In the competitive apparel industry, there needs to be a certain degree of flexibility to accommodate changing customer needs. To ensure production time is protected so that it supports decent working conditions, this means calendar deadlines will often need to be changed. In asking about buyer flexibility and accountability for ensuring adequate production time, we had no suppliers reporting any problems.
    Findings for managing the purchasing process may come as a surprise to readers. Like you, we consistently hear suppliers saying there is not enough time allowed for production.
    While we applaud the good scores received in this category, Better Buying reminds readers that pilot test scores cannot be generalized to the industry as a whole. In fact, while we hope the positive findings continue to show up for managing the purchasing process, we anticipate that with more ratings this category will show declines.
How can you use the information Better Buying provides about managing the purchasing process?
    Buyers, managing the purchasing process isn’t only about making sure the supplier has enough time for production, it is a reflection of your internal operational efficiency. Everyone’s time is wasted, both at buyer and action calendars, you will be able to embed those findings in employee evaluations to make sure staff are performing up to par.
    One way buyers can use this now is to consider a few best practices reported in the ratings. Specifically suppliers told us that:
    • The buyer’s planning and they do not push for rush deliveries.
    • The buyer’s purchasing processes are consistent and organized.
    • No late changes in development are made.
    Suppliers, when Better Buying scores are published for buyers, you will be able to anticipate the types of challenges you will face in working with new buyers. You can consider building in contingencies and the timing of shipping windows.

Marsha A. Dickson, Ph.D. and Doug Cahn

Co-Founders, Better Buying

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