It is a well-known fact that without procurement, most businesses would not be able to operate. Reliable procurement management allows for projects and processes to be completed successfully, ensuring that items or services are provided on time, and at the right prices.
Procurement can be a complex process, involving negotiation, building relationships and guaranteeing the timely delivery of potentially lifesaving products and services as is the case with healthcare procurement, which introduces additional challenges and requirements that must be satisfied in order to ensure successful results.
There is much more to procurement than simply reducing costs. The end goal for procurement consultants is to help clients meet their objectives while providing added value, reducing the complexity of supply chains, making operational improvements and overseeing processes from start to finish.
As the founder and Managing Director of leading healthcare procurement organisation Unimed Procurement Services (Unimed), Shameet Thakkar has a wealth of valuable insights to share on the role of procurement consultancy. He says: “Procurement is not simply about providing a product or service.
“It touches multiple parts of a business, improving strategic function, helping streamline processes and helping find better sources of supply, ultimately creating a better bottom line profit margin.
“It’s also about offering a complete solution. Whatever the client’s needs are, procurement consultants use their skills and expertise to alleviate the pressure of dealing with complicated processes and finding the best possible practices, providing access to the right products for the right people, at the right prices”, he comments.
Ultimately, procurement consultancy provides a turnkey solution. Consultants are able to work and negotiate with manufacturers, consolidators, shipping and logistics companies and other partners globally, establishing and working toward reaching KPIs along with offering the most innovative and cost-effective solutions.
“While procurement services have an international presence and work with partners all over the world, it is important to use localised procurement where possible.
“Adhering to ESG standards is critical in contributing to the world’s mission to reduce our carbon footprint, and sustainable procurement can play a significant role in contributing to the cause”, adds Shameet.
Armed with the expertise needed to create customised strategies, procurement consultancy can help find the right solutions all while operating sustainably, and to a high standard of quality.
With in-depth awareness of market trends and supplier relations management, procurement companies can effectively support both clients and end users. There are, however, substantial differences between private and public procurement.
Public procurement is estimated to be at high risk for corruption, with a potential 50% of added costs to any project stemming solely from corruption, as well as a reduction in the quality of products and services.
“Corruption within procurement is a topic of concern, which is why procurement organisations should endeavour to provide transparency every step of the way”, says Shameet.
“Whether there are certain issues with a product, delivery delays, goals that are no longer attainable or risks associated with specific processes, we need to ensure we remain in control wherever possible, and that our clients are fully aware of any problems”.
Aside from providing increased flexibility within budget and procedures, private procurement companies closely work with customers from the beginning stages through to the completion of a project to efficiently meet requirements all while keeping the needs of both clients and end users in mind.
Quality assurance in procurement incorporates all the factors that influence the quality of a product, extending to the whole supply chain. This involves the raw materials used, the manufacturing process, packaging and labelling as well as transportation and storage, amongst other things.
“When it comes to procuring healthcare and pharmaceutical products, there’s a variety of laws and regulations we have to comply with, and these can be difficult to navigate without the right knowledge and experience”, says Claire Harrington, Head of Quality Assurance at Unimed.
Companies working on an international scale have a responsibility to ensure regulations are followed across the origin country as well as those receiving the products – which often comes with additional costs, but there is more to quality assurance in procurement than simply adhering to regulations.
“It’s essential to design quality management into your services from the onset. Procurement services organisations should aim to have a quality management ethos that permeates through their whole company, so that quality is built into every interaction with suppliers and customers as well as the procurement aspect itself”, Claire adds.
Quality assurance within procurement is a multi-faceted operation that extends to the whole supply chain, involving providing realistic shipment routes, meeting traceability standards for products, keeping thorough records and complying with ad hoc requirements such as strict temperature control, particularly in the case of medical products.
“Supply chain investigation and standard control become even more important with healthcare products. For instance, faulty diagnostic equipment could result in false diagnoses, so monitoring all procedures to a high standard is crucial in minimising these risks”, says Claire.
Ultimately, end-to-end quality assurance is paramount in healthcare procurement, ensuring products can safely reach end users and playing a vital role in keeping businesses robust.