New broom at corProcure

After nearly 12 months of bumps and lumps, the side may be smoothing out for online purchasing site corProcure.

In the past few weeks corProcure has strung together its first successful series of reverse auctions, according to new CEO Tom Honan.

Nine of corProcure's 14 blue-ribbon corporate stakeholders participated in the auctions, which involved drinking water, rental cars and tyres.

For both buyers and suppliers, the online auction's most impressive outcome was the remarkable time saving it ushered in, Honan said.

The normal method for cutting a deal on, say, rental cars, involves three or four months of requests for proposals, expressions of interest and discussion of specifications.

By contrast, only four weeks were required to prepare for the rental car reverse auction and actually conduct the event.

That was a significant reduction even though offline work was still needed to arrange and implement the contracts in the aftermath of the auction.

CorProcure is pushing ahead with two more auctions over the next two weeks, which will bring the number of participating stakeholders to 11.

The e-procurement site expects to stage an average of one online auction per week, according to Honan.

It marks a dramatic turnaround by corProcure from a failed attempt earlier this year.

Major lessons learnt from the earlier flop were "the importance of engaging the supplier community, listening to them and understanding more about the market in general", Honan said.

He called the auction "a nice mix" of the two pillars on which corProcure's business plan rests - online procurement and a strategic approach to procuring goods which aggregates spend and lessens risk.

A former senior executive with multinationals like Nike, Honan became CEO two weeks ago at the same time corProcure retrenched 18 per cent of its 45 permanent staff.

He dismissed reports of dissatisfaction with corProcure's performance among its shareholders who embrace Amcor, AMP, ANZ, Australia Post, BHP, Coca Cola Amatil, Coles Myer, Fosters, Goodman Fielder, Orica, Pacific Dunlop, Qantas, Telstra and Wesfarmers.

"We have had a board meeting yesterday at which we had unparalleled commitment from shareholders."

The commitment has to do with their readiness to assist in the change process needed to transform procurement operations in established businesses, Honan said.

Shareholders haven't been asked for fresh funds because corProcure has sufficient resources to take it through the next nine to 12 months to its expected self-funding date, he said.

The reverse auctions are the most visible example of corProcure's progress.

It also has online purchasing transactions going through its online exchange but only in what Honan termed "small quantities". By the end of June, its goal is to have 10 suppliers actively involved with the exchange. -- The Industry Standard Australia

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