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When your company’s procurement strategy is aligned with business goals, there may be a 4x higher return on investment. But a procurement strategy may have several potential objectives: the focus may be on innovation, or on cost reduction, or vendor relationships, geographical distance and location, or any combination of these and other factors.

In this article, we’ll delve into procurement strategy—what the term means, how it works, the multiple types of procurement strategies, and frameworks to think about it and create an effective one for your business to thrive. 

What is a procurement strategy?

A procurement strategy serves as a comprehensive roadmap for implementing a procurement process within an organization. It serves as a blueprint for guiding the implementation of the process, and encompasses building a supply chain, initiating and tracking purchases, managing costs and risks, and evaluating results against the business goals that were set out with. The primary goal is to match buyers with contracted suppliers efficiently, streamline transactions, eliminate errors, minimize risk, and manage corporate expenses effectively​.

In more detail, each step involves:

  1. Building a Supply Chain: This is the backbone of the procurement strategy. It involves identifying, evaluating, and selecting suppliers who can provide the necessary goods and services. The aim is to create a robust supply chain that is both cost-effective and reliable.
  2. Initiating and Tracking Purchases: A procurement strategy defines how purchases should be initiated, approved, and tracked. This includes setting up protocols for purchase requests, approval workflows, and maintaining a record of all transactions. This process ensures transparency and accountability in the purchasing process.
  3. Managing Costs and Risks: Cost management is a key aspect of procurement strategy. It involves negotiating favorable terms with suppliers, seeking cost-saving opportunities, and budget management. Equally important is risk management, which includes assessing and mitigating risks associated with supply chain disruptions, price volatility, and supplier reliability.
  4. Evaluating Results: A critical component of a procurement strategy is the evaluation of its effectiveness. This involves analyzing procurement data to assess performance against set objectives, identifying areas for improvement, and making necessary adjustments. This continuous evaluation helps in refining procurement processes and strategies over time.
  5. Streamlining Transactions: The strategy aims to make procurement processes as efficient as possible. This includes implementing systems that facilitate quicker and error-free transactions, such as electronic procurement systems, automated workflows, and digital contract management.
  6. Minimizing Risk: By establishing strong relationships with suppliers and creating a diverse supplier base, the strategy helps in minimizing risks such as supply chain disruptions or dependency on a single supplier.
  7. Managing Corporate Expenses: Ultimately, the procurement strategy is geared towards effective expense management. This involves ensuring that the organization's spending aligns with its financial goals and objectives, yielding cost savings and maximizing the value of every purchase.

In essence, a procurement strategy is about much more than simply buying goods and services. It's about strategically managing the entire procurement process to align with the organization's broader goals, ensuring operational efficiency, financial health, and competitive advantage in the market.

How Procurement Strategy Works

Developing an effective procurement strategy involves a series of methodical steps, each contributing to the overall efficiency and success of the procurement process. Understanding these is key to leveraging it as a tool for organizational success. Below is a breakdown of the major steps involved:

Assessment of Current Spending and Requirements: The foundation of an effective procurement strategy is a thorough reflection upon the organization's current spending and sourcing patterns. This involves analyzing historical data to identify what has been purchased, from whom, at what cost, and in what quantities. This assessment helps in pinpointing areas where spending can be reduced and where better deals or suppliers might be needed.

Forecasting Future Requirements: Based on the assessment of current spending, the strategy involves forecasting future requirements. This forward-looking approach helps in anticipating future procurement needs, considering factors like growth projections, market trends, and potential changes in supply and demand.

Market Research and Supplier Evaluation: An integral part of this strategy is conducting market research to identify potential suppliers. This includes evaluating suppliers based on criteria such as cost, quality, reliability, and their ability to meet the organisation's specific needs. It's about finding the right balance between cost-effectiveness and quality assurance.

Building and Formalizing Supply Chain Relationships: Once suitable suppliers are identified, the next step is to build and formalise relationships with them. This includes negotiating terms and conditions, setting up contracts, and establishing clear communication channels. The goal is to create a stable and mutually beneficial relationship with each supplier.

Implementation of Automated Procurement Systems: To streamline the procurement process, the strategy often includes the implementation of automated systems. These systems facilitate various aspects of procurement, from issuing purchase orders to processing invoices. Automation helps in reducing manual errors, speeding up transactions, and improving overall efficiency.

Continuous Monitoring and Improvement: A procurement strategy is not a set-it-and-forget-it approach. It requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation. This means regularly reviewing supplier performance, analysing procurement data, and staying abreast of market changes. The strategy should be flexible enough to adapt to new information or changing organisational needs, while being rooted in strong business fundamentals and clear-eyed goal-setting.

Turning Procurement into a Competitive Advantage: A well-executed procurement strategy turns the act of procurement into a competitive advantage for the organisation, and can even quadruple return on investment. Securing better prices, ensuring higher quality supplies, reducing lead times, or improving the reliability of the supply chain are all high-impact business activities, whose importance to tangible business outcomes should not be under-estimated.

By following these steps, a procurement strategy works not just to fulfill an organization's purchasing needs, but to do so in a way that supports broader business objectives, maximizes value, and fosters long-term growth and sustainability.

Types of Procurement Strategies

The choice of a procurement strategy is pivotal to an organization's success, as it directly impacts financial efficiency and supplier relationships. Different types of procurement strategies cater to varying business needs and objectives.

Hence, it is recommended that businesses begin their procurement strategy by evaluating their current processes, needs, and future goals, so that they may choose a type that applies to them. Below are some types of procurement strategies:

  1. Single-Source Procurement: This strategy involves relying on a single vendor for specific goods or services. The benefit of this approach is the development of a deeper relationship with the supplier, potentially leading to better pricing, improved quality, and more responsive service. However, it also comes with risks like dependency on one supplier, uncompetitive pricing, and potential supply disruptions.
  2. Core Purchasing Cycle: This approach uses regular vendors for most standard orders while outsourcing for larger or more unique purchases. It strikes a balance between maintaining reliable, ongoing relationships with trusted suppliers and leveraging external resources for special needs.
  3. Low-Cost Procurement: As the name suggests, this strategy focuses on finding the lowest-cost supplier for a given good or service. While it's effective for reducing expenses, it can sometimes lead to compromises in quality or missed opportunities for better value. A careful evaluation of cost versus quality is essential in this strategy.
  4. Volume Consolidation: Here, the focus is on consolidating purchases to achieve volume discounts. By buying in larger quantities, organizations can negotiate better rates, thereby reducing overall costs. This strategy is most effective when the organization has predictable, high-volume needs.
  5. Green Procurement: This environmentally conscious strategy prioritizes purchasing from suppliers who offer sustainable and eco-friendly products. It reflects an organization's commitment to environmental responsibility and can also cater to consumer preferences for green products.
  6. Strategic Sourcing: This method involves a continuous process of analyzing an organization's spending and supplier relationships to improve and re-evaluate purchasing activities. Strategic sourcing aims at consolidating purchasing power to secure the best available values in the marketplace.
  7. Global Sourcing: For organizations looking to expand their supplier base internationally, global sourcing opens up a world of opportunities. It involves sourcing goods and services across geopolitical boundaries, often aiming to exploit global efficiencies such as lower-cost skilled labor, cheaper raw materials, and other economic factors like tax breaks and low trade tariffs.

Each of these strategies has its strengths and considerations, and the choice depends on the organization's specific needs, market conditions, and strategic goals. A well-chosen procurement strategy can lead to significant advantages, including cost savings, improved supply chain reliability, and enhanced competitive positioning.

Steps to Create an Effective Procurement Strategy

  1. Assessing Purchasing Needs: The first step is a thorough assessment of the organization's current and future purchasing requirements. This involves understanding what goods and services are necessary for the business operations, their frequency, and quantity. This step sets the foundation for the entire strategy, as it defines what needs to be procured.
  2. Prioritizing Categories of Spend: Once the purchasing needs are assessed, categorize and prioritize them based on factors such as cost, criticality, and volume. This step helps in focusing efforts and resources on the most impactful areas, ensuring better control over spending and supplier management.
  3. Conducting Market Research: In-depth market research is crucial to understand the supplier landscape. This involves identifying potential suppliers, understanding market trends, and gaining insight into pricing models. Effective market research aids in making informed decisions about supplier selection and negotiation.
  4. Identifying Preferred Suppliers: Based on the market research, identify potential suppliers who can meet the organization's needs. Criteria for selection might include cost, quality, reliability, and alignment with the company's values and requirements. This step also involves deciding on whether to go for single-source or multiple suppliers, depending on the procurement strategy.
  5. Negotiating Contracts: With preferred suppliers identified, the next step is to negotiate contracts. This involves discussions on pricing, delivery terms, quality standards, and payment terms. The aim is to establish contracts that offer the best value for money while ensuring reliability and quality.
  6. Establishing Rate Cards and Catalogs: For recurring indirect spend, establishing rate cards and catalogs with predefined pricing and specifications can streamline the procurement process. This step is especially beneficial for items that are regularly purchased, as it saves time and ensures consistency in pricing and quality.
  7. Formalizing Statements of Work and Milestones: For services procurement, it's crucial to formalize statements of work (SOWs) and define clear milestones. This helps in setting expectations, monitoring progress, and ensuring that service delivery aligns with the agreed terms.
  8. Implementing Procurement Policies: Establishing clear procurement policies and guidelines is essential. These policies should cover aspects like approval workflows, spending limits, and compliance requirements. They ensure that the procurement process is transparent, consistent, and aligned with organizational goals.
  9. Ongoing Monitoring and Improvement: Finally, an effective procurement strategy requires continuous monitoring and improvement. This involves regularly reviewing supplier performance, analyzing spending patterns, and adapting the strategy to changing needs and market conditions.

Procurement Strategy Framework

A procurement strategy framework is a structured approach that aligns the procurement process with the overarching goals and objectives of an organization. It serves as a guideline for making procurement decisions and managing procurement activities. Here's how it typically unfolds:

  1. Alignment with Corporate Strategy: Start by ensuring that the procurement strategy is in sync with the organization's overall corporate strategy. This means that procurement decisions should support and contribute to the broader business goals, whether they are cost savings, quality improvement, innovation, increasing return on investment, building better supplier relationships, or sustainability goals.
  2. Defining Procurement Objectives: The next step is to clearly define the specific objectives of the procurement function. These objectives could range from reducing procurement costs, improving supplier relationships, enhancing product quality, to ensuring ethical and sustainable sourcing, among others.
  3. Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): To measure the success of the procurement strategy, it's essential to establish Key Performance Indicators. Depending on the broad business goal being targetted, the KPI could include metrics like cost savings achieved, supplier performance scores, contract compliance rates, and time-to-market for procured items.
  4. Risk Management: The framework should incorporate a comprehensive risk management plan. This involves identifying potential risks in the procurement process (such as supply chain disruptions or price volatility) and developing strategies to mitigate them. It also includes continuous monitoring and updating of risk management strategies as market conditions change.
  5. Stakeholder Engagement: Effective procurement requires the involvement and buy-in of various stakeholders within the organization. The framework should outline how to engage with these stakeholders, including defining roles and responsibilities and setting up communication channels.
  6. Supplier Relationship Management: An essential component of the framework is managing relationships with suppliers. This includes strategies for selecting and evaluating suppliers, negotiating contracts, and managing ongoing relationships. A focus on building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers can lead to better pricing, quality, and service.
  7. Continuous Improvement: The framework should promote a culture of continuous improvement in procurement processes. This involves regularly reviewing and updating procurement practices, staying abreast of best practices and market trends, and leveraging technology for better procurement efficiency.
  8. Technology Integration: In today’s digital era, incorporating technology into the procurement strategy is vital. This could mean using e-procurement systems, digital contract management tools, and data analytics platforms. Technology can streamline procurement processes, provide better data insights, and improve decision-making.

Importance of a Good Procurement Strategy

A good procurement strategy is vital for any organization aiming for operational efficiency and financial success. 

One of the primary benefits of a well-crafted procurement strategy is significant cost savings and therefore improved financial health. By negotiating better terms with suppliers, reducing waste, and optimizing spending, organizations can positively impact their bottom line. Research indicates that effective procurement strategies can lead to cost improvements ranging from 10% to 25% in various spending categories.

A good procurement strategy fosters strong relationships with suppliers, which can lead to numerous benefits such as improved product quality, more favorable payment terms, and better service. Strong supplier relationships are crucial for ensuring supply chain resilience and reliability.

Effective procurement strategies help in identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks associated with supply chain disruptions, price volatility, and supplier performance issues. This proactive approach to risk management is essential for maintaining smooth business operations.

A well-defined procurement strategy also streamlines the purchasing process, reduces administrative overhead, and improves transaction processing. This operational efficiency not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and delays.

A good procurement strategy ensures compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. It also promotes ethical sourcing practices, which are increasingly important to consumers and can enhance a company's reputation and brand value.

By aligning procurement with business strategy, organizations can leverage their purchasing power to drive innovation. This can include sourcing from suppliers who provide innovative products and services, thereby giving the organization a competitive edge in the market, potentially elevating its brand and pricing power.

Increasingly, organizations are also using their procurement strategies to achieve sustainability goals. This includes sourcing from suppliers who adhere to environmentally friendly practices and promoting the use of sustainable materials and products. Apart from contributing to the well-being of the environment, there are several benefits for brands and businesses that work towards socially responsible corporate goals.


A well-designed procurement strategy is more than a cost-saving tool. It can become a critical component of, and reason for, the organization’s success. By effectively managing procurement processes, organizations can not only achieve substantial cost reductions but also enhance supplier relationships, mitigate risks, and align purchasing decisions with broader business goals. 

The strategic importance of procurement is underscored by its impact on operational efficiency, compliance, innovation, and sustainability. As such, investing time and resources in developing a robust procurement strategy is not just a good business practice — it's an essential one for any forward-thinking organization.