• Service: Advisory, Management Consulting, Business Performance Services
  • Industry: Financial Services, Investment Management, Capital Markets, Banking, Chemicals & Performance Technologies, Life Sciences
  • Type: Video
  • Date: 1/8/2014
  • Length: 4:51 Minutes

Inside Out: Setting Up the Procurement Organization for Success 

Tim Tolhurst, DSM:

Cutting through complexity


Setting up the procurement organization for success

Executive Vice President
Chief Purchasing Officer

in conversation with
Advisory Partner
KPMG in The Netherlands

Setting up the procurement organization for success

Procurement can help avoid inventing products or services when the market can't meet the needs.


TIM TOLHURST: Raising the business awareness is the first thing I think, because what you don’t want to do is invent products or services which in fact immediately create, you know, a sub -optimal situation from a supply side, because, you know, you've put yourself in a situation where the markets can't meet the needs. And I think, so we have a role to play there and we've been able to hard-wire the procurement organization in that whole project management process.

Setting up the procurement organization for success

We need to shift from 'arms length' to 'customer of choice'

You start from a place where your company sees the supplier base very much as an 'arms length' sort of third party, sort of, you know, not so much the enemy, but certainly not somebody who has competencies and skills and experiences and capital and innovation that can help you win in your markets. The modern enterprises have thought about, "What is it that I'm good at? And I should focus on? And who else in the world is out there that can help me achieve the same outcome without me necessarily having to build that competence myself?" But unless you see the supplier base as a trusted organization which you can really rely upon, you know, it means that, you know, you're too risk adverse to really reach out to the suppliers and engage them in a meaningful way.


I think equally important is that we need to get the suppliers to believe that DSM is the customer of choice. You know? That if they are going to put their resources and their energy and their effort in, that they see DSM as a company that they can win with; so that we're growing successfully and they grow with us, and that this sort of handshake, this relationship, this partnership, this marriage, whatever you wanna call it, you know, is gonna be fulfilling for them as well. So when they do their segmentation of their customers and they think about where is it that we're gonna get the best return on our own resources, they see DSM as a company that they can be successful with, with the kind of relationship which gives them the kind of assurances and the kind of, yeah, the kind of interactions where they can maintain transparency and understand where they are.

Setting up the procurement organization for success

People must be empowered to make a difference


People are the last source of differentiation. I mean, the ability to really make the difference and differentiate, that certainly comes down to do you have the best people? But not just about the best people, do you have the people that are positioned and empowered in a way where they can really make the difference? And are they sophisticated enough and insightful enough to be able to bring, you know, these more sophisticated, more solution based outcomes than just simply you know, picking up the phone and ordering something and negotiating a price. How do you connect the supply base with the business in a meaningful way? And how does procurement really act, as I said, as an integrator between the supply side and the business? And I think there you know, if you're not investing in your people today, if you're not picking the people that really can raise the bar and developing them and trying to get them you know, positioned in a way where they can really make the difference then I think, you know, then you're not doing the right things.


Setting up the procurement organization for success

  • Raise business awareness
  • Get early involvement
  • Have closer working relationships with suppliers
  • Invest in people



Setting up a procurement organization for success involves gaining a suitable level of attention from C-suite counterparts and enhancing relationships with both employees and suppliers to provide sophisticated outcomes. DSM’s Chief Procurement Officer, Tim Tolhurst, discusses how DSM’s procurement organization has driven success by enhancing the awareness and capabilities of supplier relationships. Gaining executive attention to view supplier relationships as an investment in time, resources, and efforts is fundamental to ensuring a successful procurement organization.

Tim Tolhurst, DSM

Tim Tolhurst has been the Chief Purchasing Officer of Royal DSM since January 2010. Tolhurst joined DSM in November 2009 from Firmenich Group, where he was Global Vice President Purchasing and Logistics. Tim is highly experienced in the area of Purchasing and has held several senior positions in this field with previous employers including Thorn EMI, Mars, SmithKline Beechamand Quest International.

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