Procurement consulting is a professional service provided by people who have extensive experience and expertise in the various aspects of procurement. Procurement, or purchasing, is the process of selecting suppliers and signing contracts for the purchase of goods and services by a business. The types of goods and the total dollar value of the contract vary widely, depending on the industry and business size.
In addition to traditional procurement, system implementation has greatly increased the demand for procurement consultants. These consultants must be subject matter experts, able to advise the company and the systems staff what best practice is and how to use the system for the greatest advantage. This aspect of procurement also includes the design and use of electronic procurement or procurement systems. These tools are increasingly popular as a way to increase efficiency and improve transparency within the business organization.
There are three primary types of firms that offer procurement consulting services: large multinational firms, boutique firms, and vendor-specific consulting firms. All consulting firms provide access to subject-matter experts, who are hired to perform a specific task or function and then go on to the next assignment. The services of a consultant is usually required in circumstances where the in-house staff lack the expertise required to make a change to the current business process. The expectation is that the consultant will leave at the end of the engagement, and the remaining staff will sustain the new business process or system.
Procurement consultants travel widely, working for companies that have one of three primary needs: procurement policy review, enhancement of current business process, or implementation of a procurement system. Although there are many paths to becoming a procurement consultant, all procurement consultants have post-secondary education, professional certification, and significant work experience in procurement.
The field of procurement consulting has grown rapidly in the past five years and is forecast to experience continued growth for the next 10 to 15 years. The application of well-known procurement concepts have been proven to save firms both real costs and staff time. Savings realized are often arrived through improved business processes or negotiation and do not require a reduction in services.
When selecting a procurement consulting firm, ask for a detailed project plan and review the resumes of the consultants assigned to the project. Make sure there is a project manager with experience and authority assigned to the project to ensure that the consultant has the tools required to complete the job and remain focused on the task at hand.