Why Your Organization Needs A Procurement Center of Excellence

By Hugo Britt | February 2, 2021

Centers of Excellence (COE) are specialized teams that provide leadership, support, training, research, and best-practice across different areas of focus.

Here are six reasons your organization could benefit from a procurement center of excellence.

Procurement COEs look beyond the day-to-day workload

We often hear about the importance of continuous learning in procurement. We’re told to read the latest industry whitepapers, understand issues facing the profession, and be on the look-out for opportunities to be innovative.

In reality, it’s very difficult for most of us to find the time to step away from the daily workload. The “churn” of emails to answer, RFPs to issue, and meetings to attend doesn’t leave time for much else.

That’s why having a team that is free from the constraints of day-to-day procurement activity is a must.

A procurement center of excellence can:

  • Keep the organization informed of the latest research and procurement thought-leadership
  • Understand and implement the latest best-practice procurement methodology in your organization
  • Look beyond the tactical to think and act strategically

COEs can act as procurement knowledge hubs

Many organizations upload their procurement documentation (policies, processes, and how-to guides) to the company intranet. In a decentralized purchasing environment, however, there’s no escaping the fact that stakeholders throughout the business will have constant questions for the procurement team.

A central team of experts highly familiar with company procurement policies and processes can therefore act as the main point-of-contact for stakeholder queries, freeing up time for the tactical procurement team.

Procurement COEs introduce new processes and software

As any Chief Technology Officer will tell you, the greatest risk involved in major software investments lies in implementation. A center of excellence can take on the task of implementation of procurement-related software to vastly improve the likelihood of success. This is crucial, given that up to 70% of digital transformations fail.

The same goes for new procurement processes that have been brought in to reflect best practice or regulatory changes. Simply announcing the new process is never enough. There must be a dedicated team of people who can help implement the change and assist stakeholders with the adjustment.

Procurement Centers of Excellence provide training and support

A procurement center of excellence can help ensure you get more bang for your training buck by running a skills assessment and organizing targeted training to address identified skills gaps. COEs can also encourage shared learning and information-sharing throughout the organization to ensure key insights are not lost or ignored.

Procurement COEs help drive alignment

Staying aligned with the goals of the wider organization is an ongoing challenge for procurement. Not doing so means procurement faces the risk of pursuing the wrong goals and ultimately becoming irrelevant in the organization.

A cross-functional center of excellence can “own” the task of keeping a finger on the pulse of business goals and regularly reviewing the state of alignment between the function and the wider business.

A procurement COE will help build the function’s influence

“Getting a seat at the decision-making table” is still an elusive dream for many procurement functions. A center of excellence can help by representing the function at the highest levels in the organization, and communicate the value of procurement to the C-Suite. Improving procurement’s influence will lead to much earlier involvement in strategic planning.

Free up time to focus on your Center of Excellence

In many businesses, a procurement center of excellence may seem like an unattainable luxury. If you’re not yet in a position to stand up a COE, an alternative may be to partner with a GPO to outsource some of your procurement activities and free up your team’s time.

Group purchasing organizations leverage the collective buying power of their members to obtain volume discounts from suppliers. Once you join a GPO, you’re able to take advantage of pre-negotiated contracts and receive discounted pricing on the goods and services needed to run your business. GPOs handle everything from the vetting of suppliers and contract negotiations to offering up another level of expertise when it comes to saving you money, time, and effort.

When employed properly, a GPO can be an efficient sourcing tool that should deliver much more than cost savings. The best GPOs will play a supportive role in your comprehensive procurement plan, complementing your sourcing strategies – not replacing them.

Una’s team of expert sourcing advisors can assist with some of the daily work that would normally eat up a procurement team’s time. In turn, this allows those individuals to focus more on long-term strategic activities, research and innovation, technology, training and support, and helping to keep the organization aligned with business goals.

Need some additional sourcing support and more time to focus on other strategic activities? Contact us to learn more.


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