Proxima: delivering true value in procurement

By William Girling
Clare Harris, Executive Vice President Operations, describes how Proxima has established itself as a world leader in procurement consultancy services...

Clare Harris, Executive Vice President Operations, describes how Proxima has established itself as a world leader in procurement consultancy services.

Over the last 25 years, Proxima has established itself as a world-leading expert on procurement consultancy services, helping a broad spectrum of customers to unlock their supply chain’s full potential, from the largest Fortune 500 entities to bespoke startups. Part of the company for over 15 years, Clare Harris, Executive Vice President Operations, states that her role has two primary responsibilities: 1) solve commercial challenges and 2) take advantage of commercial opportunities. “Ultimately, we work with our clients’ procurement and commercial teams to help drive value from their cost base.” 

As a company, Proxima helps customers optimise what they spend with suppliers and build exceptional procurement functions. “When you think that, on average, about 70% of organisational spend is with suppliers, then you can immediately understand the potential that exists for savings and innovation,” Harris states. However, it isn’t necessarily a purely ‘cost-saving’ exercise; the company specialises in maximising the value of every penny spent. “It’s about understanding what value means to our clients, whether that’s cost, speed, return, risk efficiency, or quality. There are multiple perspectives across our client base.”

Contributing to the company’s enduring success has been a flexible strategy focused on being adaptable to the changing supply chain environment. That evolution, Harris says, has been characterised by increased networking, collaboration and emphasis on procurement itself. “The focus on churning through transactions and processes actually eroded value over time. I think procurement is moving more to the heart of organisations and it’s also becoming increasingly diverse, with many more female leaders today.” 

The benefits of this industry development have been keenly felt by Proxima’s clients. One in particular, Arm, shares a close working dynamic with it: “Proxima has been able to bring both commercial expertise and category knowledge, while also injecting capability at a time when Arm’s existing procurement team were quite stretched,” Harris explains. Establishing a “two-way feedback” loop, the collaborators have been able to react swiftly to challenges and coordinate decisively, “We work together at pace and deliver value quickly.” Using different time zones to its advantage, Proxima’s UK team can hand over to the US team and vice versa, creating a continuous cycle of problem-solving capability.

This kind of partnership will prove vital in the post-COVID-19 world, where traditional operational patterns no longer hold true and an innovative mindset is crucial. As other companies strive to build an operating model for procurement that matches today’s challenges, Harris believes that Proxima’s breadth of expertise will become even more valuable. “When we first locked down, there was a feeling that businesses would, to some extent, ‘batten down the hatches’ and just focus on cost. However, I think a lot of them are now asking, ‘How can we transform ourselves to make decisions quicker?’, and that theme will continue into 2021.” Proxima’s aim, then, will be to guide that development and continue its ongoing mission of delivering real value to its customers.  

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