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The Challenge of Hitting a Moving Target
When was the last time you took a good, close look at your department’s purchasing process? If you’re like many maintenance and engineering managers I speak with, the last time probably is longer ago than it should be.
No doubt, managers are aware of the systems, parts and equipment that front-line technicians require to carry out their departments’ missions. Managers also know the traditional sources for these kinds of products.
But managers also understand that the purchasing process evolves constantly, so getting a firm handle on it has become an even tougher task. But given the impact of the process on an organization’s operations and bottom line, hitting this moving target has never been more important.
Maybe the most dramatic change in buying products in recent years is related to the number of possible sources:
- Manufacturers offer an array of products that continually evolves and expands in response to both competitive forces and customer demands.
- Product distributors look to build stronger relationships with large institutional and commercial organizations by providing consulting services to complement their product offerings.
- The World Wide Web might not be the revolutionary force predicted a decade ago. But managers know it can be a vital resource for researching and buying almost any kind of product.
- “Big box” retailers have emerged as another source of products for maintenance and engineering managers. Although their role is still taking shape, it is very likely to get larger in coming years.
Add to this mix other related factors — including evolving technology and mounting pressure to control costs — and the challenge becomes even more daunting.
As you look through the contents of this year’s Buyer’s Resource Guide, you might use it as an opportunity to consider how well you understand your department’s purchasing process. This kind of scrutiny provides an opportunity to save money, improve productivity and better support the organization’s mission.