Transforming procurement at OCS Group UK

Transforming procurement at OCS Group UK

Steve Caddell, Group Procurement Director at OCS Group UK, discusses the importance of operating with an agile approach in the supply chain space...

The world’s largest privately owned facilities management services company, OCS Group, is renowned for being a progressive business with a strong heritage. Serving a diverse customer base spanning across a broad range of industries such as aviation, healthcare, business and industry, sports, leisure and entertainment, OCS Group UK showcases its versatility to meet each customer’s specific needs.

With the supply chain world in a state of transition following the introduction of new technology industry-wide, Steve Caddell, Group Procurement Director at the company, believes adopting a flexible approach is key to embracing change management. “We try to be agile and lean. Our approach to change management is based on incremental gains,” he explains. “Being agile is a state of mind and if your mindset is conservative and slow, then you can’t be agile.” Caddell recognises the importance of innovation and trialling new things. “We’ve created a culture in the procurement team at OCS Group UK where it’s okay to try and fail fast in the pursuit of finding new ways of working,” he says. 

Change is an area that Caddell values. Having switched from an outsourced procurement model to one that operates in-house several years ago, he understands that supply chain performance not just cost saving, is crucial. “The commercial approach of the outsourced provider was not consistent with the values of OCS Group and awarded very long term contracts and guaranteed unrealistic levels of spend,” says Caddell. “This approach is not sustainable and therefore not good business.” With over 2,000 customers in the UK and each using its supply chain, Caddell believes procurement is vitally important for overall company success. “Each of our customers use part of our supply chain, whether that’s the machines we deploy on-site, uniforms given to our employees or materials cleaning operatives use,” he affirms. “We have a very high reliance on our supply chain , which is why our procurement function is so well regarded within OCS.”

With a robust supplier relationship management (SRM) strategy in place, Caddell recognises his company’s strategy primarily revolves around portfolio management instead of category management. “We organise our procurement team around similarities of commodity, rather than just spend,” he explains. “For example, one of our portfolio managers looks after the wholesaler portfolio of suppliers, ranging from catering consumables through to cleaning equipment. These are vastly different areas of spend, but share a common operating model of delivering to our customer sites every day. Each portfolio manager has an SRM toolkit based around incremental improvement. We actively engage with our suppliers regularly and have open conversation about where they can help us develop.”

Caddell has a range of high performing suppliers at his disposal, believing that success in the industry simply wouldn’t be possible without them. “We have a heavy reliance on our supply chain, the OCS proposition is dependent on high performance,” he explains. “Having formed a key strategic business relationship with Tabbers and Recomony, Caddell believes in the value that true collaboration with the supply chain and feels it is vital for success. “Tabbers produces all of our marketing material and we’ve worked with them for a considerable amount of time. In my opinion, they’re very innovative and share our values around care, expertise and trust and often go way beyond what is normally expected. We see them as an integral part of the team,” says Caddell. “Reconomy is our waste broker and help us manage over 400 local waste providers all around the UK, and provides industry leading expertise and advice about how to reduce waste consumption and increase our level of recycling. Reconomy’s technology platform is also of great use to us and collates all of the statutory documents associated with waste compliance in one place.”

Looking to the future, Caddell has a clear understanding of the direction he anticipates his company to take over the next few years. “We're in the final stages of the last few remaining legacy contracts that were created as part of the outsourced arrangements,” he says. “Once we’re free of those, we will rebuild the supply chain and restructure it significantly. We want to build the highest performing supply chain within our industry and be seen as a beacon of best practice. We want to reduce our vehicle emissions, which in turn, would decrease delivery costs. It’s important that we look strategically what we have to do in the supply chain and find the most efficient way of moving products from a manufacturer to the end user. Procurement is a process; not a function and something that should be done by the business, not done to the business. I hope in the future that it can be seen as a normal part of what we do, enabled by a small, expert team, not necessarily a function that stands on its own.”

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