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5 Essential Questions to Ask Your Next Procurement Consultant

Michael Wilson | Aug 25, 2015

Retaining a firm for procurement management and procurement consultant services is a wise move for any organization, as these professionals offer many advantages over handling ...

procurement consultant interviewRetaining a firm for procurement management and procurement consultant services is a wise move for any organization, as these professionals offer many advantages over handling operations in-house. Consultants who are actually in the business of procurement know industry best practices to maximize efficiency and minimize costs. Plus, they know the market and can be flexible with extra resources to get the most of your supply spend.

However, even if you appreciate the benefits of using a procurement consultant, you may not know what separates the good from the great when it comes to hiring. When you sit down with candidates, here are a few of the questions you’ll need to ask to get the best candidate for the job:

1. What’s Your Experience in Consulting? 

In some ways, retaining a consultant is similar to hiring an employee, so you must review the “resume” of your candidates. Check for years of experience in the business, as these are good indicators of reliability and reputation. Ask for case studies and look out for performance numbers. Plus, you can expect that a seasoned consultant will cater more to your company’s individual needs rather than trying to fit your organization into a niche-based process.

2. Do You Have Strategies in Place to Scale Up or Down with Procurement Demand?

Your demands will change and your procurement consultant must be able to respond to these fluctuations. Ask the interviewee how they typically handle these situations with their existing clientele and determine whether that process will work for your organization. Utilizing a contingent workforce has become increasingly popular as an effective way of handling seasonal or temporary shifts.

3. What Advisory Services Do You Offer Beyond Minimizing Costs?

If you’re like many organizations, you’re probably seeking a procurement consultant for more than just finding ways to save your company money. You should consider how procurement fits into other business objectives, which requires you look to your candidate as a trusted adviser. This means involving the consultant in some of your corporate planning and budgeting matters. The procurement management team should have access to top management in order to bring fresh ideas to the table, driving efficiencies as well as reducing costs.

4. How Much of Your Efforts are Focused on Sustainability?

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword these days as players throughout your supply chain want to know where their products are sourced. You’ve probably established certain sustainability initiatives or will do so in the near future, so find out how candidates handle transparency in the procurement process. 

5. What Strategies are in Place to Minimize Supply Chain Risk?

Procurement is no longer the vertical arrangement it once was, which means companies are opening themselves up to more risk that lies outside the organization. A procurement specialist must keep tabs on supplier stability in order for your business to operate – and these professionals are certainly in a better position to do so from their view. Make sure your candidate has a documented risk-management plan in place to avoid surprises down the road.

The answers to these questions should help you narrow your choices when you’re looking at firms for procurement management and procurement consultant services. You’ll likely have additional inquiries depending on your procurement goals whether you’re looking for cost savings, efficiency, or expansion. These guidelines to the interview process will ensure you find the right fit for your company.

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