Office Supplies

This case study focusses on a top 10 legal client that had significant office supplies spend (stationery and print) across multiple UK locations.  The client hadn’t reviewed this spend for a number of years and wanted a ‘deep-dive’ review to really challenge the quality of products and service to ensure that they were receiving maximum value for money.  In this review, it became very clear, very clear that the client did not want to compromise any area of quality in pursuit of cost savings and wanted to ensure that the selected supplier had relevant sector experience, strong CSR credentials and was an excellent cultural fit.

The Challenge

Our client was one of the most prestigious global law firms, who advise 50 of the Fortune-100 and over half of the DAX 30.   The client was abundantly clear from the outset that they were relatively comfortable with their main incumbent provider and the products which were being provided but wanted to really challenge the market to convince them that there was a viable alternative solution which could sustain/improve the quality of service and deliver enhanced value.

In the initial meeting with the client it became clear that whilst there was one key supplier of the stationery and print there were also 2 other suppliers involved in the supply chain (paper from a dedicated source and various print items direct from a print manufacturer) and with one of the suppliers, in particular, the service was considered variable and on occasions poor.

Whilst there was a long-standing relationship in place between the client and the supplier it was also fairly ‘arms-length’ in terms of the supplier’s integration with the client despite there being several opportunities to challenge the current approach.

A comprehensive category review was required to conclude with a high performing and motivated office supplies company being appointed that could meet all the specific and detailed requirement of the client which we have come to appreciate from this sector.

The Challenges

  • Category hadn’t been reviewed for several years
  • Be-spoke service required
  • Multiple suppliers providing inconsistent service
  • Long standing client-supplier relationship
  • Not receiving value for money

Our Strategy

As there were several stakeholders involved in this review, the review covered both stationery and print and the requirements were for both the UK and global it was key that all stakeholder views and requirements were identified from the start.  With this in mind, we facilitated a number of internal meetings to conclude with a clear review scope and review objectives which proved to be invaluable throughout the review.

Once agreed, we then focussed on gaining a full and clear understanding of the current position in terms of processes, service standards, product specifications, volumes, unit of measures and costs.  This involved an extensive element of data analysis but by conducting this very detailed piece of work at this stage it ensured that the foundations of the review were firmly in place.

Beyond the internal data, we also researched the external office supplies market and engaged early in the process with the key suppliers to also facilitate a challenge of the client’s current approach based upon relevant legal sector experience. At this point, we asked potential suppliers to critique the current service and product brands being procured and encourage the potential suppliers to make suggestions with the focus on being to ensure we are receiving the highest service standards, the optimum product quality, with streamlined online booking processes. Whilst these factors were essential the client was also driven that they wanted to ensure they were receiving value for money on what was a sizeable budget.

Once the research phase was complete. we developed the strategy which was completed in conjunction with key stakeholders, the incumbent providers, and alternative providers. Essentially, we facilitated several internal and external meetings to really challenge our way of thinking. Whilst we have a lot of knowledge within our business on how this strategy could be developed, we also want to challenge ourselves by encouraging both the client and suppliers into discussions.

Once the strategy was agreed we embarked upon an extremely thorough and detailed tender process which involved us engaging with 6 market-leading providers in addition to the incumbent suppliers.  This tender process was essentially divided into two stages:

Stage 1 – we reviewed 90% of the value of the stationery and paper spend and then shortlisted the suppliers from 9 to 3.

Stage 2 – we added into the tender process the printed material and tendered the full solution to the remaining 3 suppliers.

Upon receipt of the tender responses, a detailed category report was drafted by ourselves for the project team and sponsor which led to a short list being agreed for stage 1 and subsequent presentations being held which we fully facilitated to ensure the client has every opportunity to explore all key components of the supplier’s proposals.  Ahead of the presentations we developed and pre-agreed with the client an evaluation criteria which was used by all presentation attendees to ensure we all consistently reviewed the key elements (e.g. company profile, service quality, print capability, product quality, risk, and costs).  This essentially allowed us to agree the suppliers for the second stage and ultimately the final appointment.

The Strategy

  • Appoint a market leading supplier to consolidate stationery, paper and print
  • Review internal processes to ensure they are optimised
  • Challenge be-spoke service requirements
  • Maximise value for money
  • Ensure the supplier can help with additional strategic initiatives

Our Solution

Following a comprehensive tender process, the category solution agreed with the client was to award a 5-year contract to a leading office supplies provider with flexibility in terms of termination if ever required.  The solution transitioned the client away from segregating the procurement of stationery, paper, and print to a single source solution who have the capability and capacity to deliver to their high and uncompromising service requirements.

Following the award, through the implementation period, all key products were reviewed and tested in terms of quality in addition to all service components of the contract (including the carriage to the global offices of the client).

From a cost savings perspective, the savings to the clients were in the region of 28% (£132k per annum) and these were delivered through 2 key areas; (1) price reductions, (2) exploring the benefit of introducing ‘own-brand’ alternatives.

The objectives of the client were fully met in full and the client has realised significant benefits through the engagement with ourselves.  However, there are still improvements which could be made as the account evolves which we have encouraged the client to consider at the appropriate time with an example of this being to potentially look at further consolidation opportunities of which there are numerous.

The Solution

  • 5-year contract awarded to a leading office supplies provider
  • Consolidate the supply chain
  • Extensive product testing and re-reviewing service requirements
  • Significant cost savings delivered of 28% (£132k per annum)
  • Appointment of a supplier who could add further value through future consolidation opportunities

Business Benefits

One of the key success factors for this review was the openness and willingness for the client to have a ‘healthy challenge’ mindset.  Ultimately, the client was extremely pleased about the review in terms of the outcomes but also in terms of the amount of ‘heavy lifting’ we did for them to ensure that we weren’t requesting more of their time than needed.

Aside from the significant benefits mentioned in the solutions section of the case study we also led the drafting of the supplier contract to ensure that all commitments made by the supplier were captured including the service specification, the service level agreement and the key performance indicators.

A key service benefit was the introduction of a highly committed and motivated account manager which led to a suite of reports being developed to assist the client in managing their spend comprehensively.  In fact, of all the benefits of the contract, this has been the most significant in the client’s eyes.

In terms of costs whilst a 28% saving was identified we see this as the point to start from and if management correctly over time further cost savings should be delivered.

Following the review, the client feedback on Oculus, ‘we have been impressed with their flexible, pragmatic and structured approach along with their significant commodity expertise.  I have absolutely no doubt we will be working with them in the future’.

The Benefits

  • Sustainable and significant cost savings
  • Contract drafted to capture full-service specification, service levels and KPI's
  • Increased transparency through MI & pro-active account management
  • Simplification of ordering and delivery processes and rectification of previously unresolved delivery issues and frustrations

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