Engineers/Specifiers v. Purchasing Score One For Purchasing

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Two days ago we posed a hypothesis and asked for our readers to share their points of view as to who drives the decisions around total project costs, total cost of ownership and even total landed costs in the case of global sourcing. Admittedly, we wrote the piece because we didn’t agree with the feedback we received from a large stainless steel producer who didn’t believe the MetalMiner audience would make for a ripe target for its products because the company wanted to get in front of specifiers, not purchasers. Specifically, the producer wanted to get in front of specifiers whom they believe drive product selection. We disagreed and so did Miles Free, Director of Technology and Industry Research for the PMPA (Precision Machined Products Association). We reprint, with permission, some comments he sent us in response to that post:

Specifiers have only technical authority, no power to implement

They are not held accountable for cost issues, only for performance of the product.

Purchasing personnel have both responsibility and authority for the bottom line of the project, and have power and authority to tell “specifiers to refigure, reconsider, redesign using latest market information.

Purchasing has the ear of true power in the organization because they impact the bottom line. Specifiers only are invited to depositions to explain why something they worked on  failed, and are considered burden by the true power in the organization. (Who did GM lay off first? Engineering, not purchasing!)

This has been a difficult to learn for me lesson as I started my career as a metallurgist, and so worshipped early at the altar of technical analysis. My lifetime experience however showed me that technical  boys are never invited to the meetings that really mattered; and so I got my MBA, and am now invited to the meetings that count.

Your potential customer erred if they thought that somehow they would get a tea party uprising started by the specifiers against the purchasing folks.    They may like the pretty horsey (specifiers) but the purchasing holds the reins and pays the rent on the stable.

The Specifiers were castrated at an early age. (Quick name a specifier who gets performance bonus!)

Purchasing has a lock on the Bonus bosom.

It’s really pretty clear.

Thanks Miles. We appreciate your comments.

–Lisa Reisman

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