Step One of the buying process: set up buying teams

The expertise of your colleagues is vital for reaching the optimal ink logistics solution, efficiently and without unnecessary delays. Bring them in at the beginning of your buying journey.

Buying is a complex journey that requires a team effort.

It is not just a case of picking the lowest-cost solution. Ink logistics is a ‘mission-critical’ investment – the right choice brings system cost reductions, and puts you in a better position to compete on quality and speed.

Market offerings today are increasingly modular – optimised and tailored to the converter’s business requirements – ink set, substrate, end-user market, level of output, and so on. There are many options to consider.

Furthermore, the investment potentially brings a step-change to operations and functions throughout the company. The latest software packages are as capable of simplifying managerial tasks like purchasing or cost reporting as much as mixing colours in the ink kitchen. This means calculating ‘total cost ownership’ and projecting returns on investment is much more complicated.

Additionally, your IT and engineering colleagues will have specialist advice about the feasibility of integrating a vendor’s offering smoothly, and whether a solution is ‘future-proof’.

It’s vital to get input from all those affected areas at every step in the buying journey:

  • identifying problems and improvement opportunities in current processes
  • exploring solutions and determining the ideal way of doing things
  • researching market offerings, e.g. on the internet and visiting trade shows (arguably an on-going task!)
  • deciding what you’re looking for in a supplier
  • supplier evaluation
  • reaching a consensus about the preferred solution

To arrive at the optimal solution that supports your long-term objectives as efficiently as possible, you need to form a multidisciplinary buying team at the beginning. This is necessary whether you’re a single-site SME or a multinational with facilities around the world.

Our advice for buyers is to set up two distinct teams – one for planning and managing the project, and another that focuses on evaluating vendors’ offerings. Note that, small businesses may not have sufficient staff for a separate evaluation team. Even so, this is a complex role with many possible criteria, and requires careful thought:

Supplier selection board
The Selection Board plans and manages the procurement project. Ideally, it should include members of the management team responsible for production, procurement, logistics, IT, marketing & sales, finance, and engineering & maintenance. The team members set objectives, investigate the full scope of requirements and constraints, steer the Evaluation Team and make financial projections. They will make the final decision to appoint a supplier.

Supplier evaluation team
The Evaluation Team will design the future process, and judge the suppliers and their proposed solutions, based on a range of selection criteria. In the team will be technical, IT and production specialists, including operators as well as middle management.

In the next step of the buying journey, learn how to analyze your current state, to identify areas for improvement in your existing processes.