Relevant studies on purchasing performance (e.g. Testing the procurement–performance link, Key strategic tools, Cost savings and strategic performance) suggest that a sustainable increase in measurable purchasing performance is achieved through a higher level of maturity of the purchasing organization (and thus of the acting employees and their instruments). According to classical understanding, price and cost reduction are the “gold standard” for purchasing performance. In certain industries and at higher levels of maturity, other values such as additional sales (through orders won thanks to competitive conditions), ecologically and socially sustainable supply chains, or usable supplier innovations are added as important contributions.
In this context, sustainable does not mean the implementation of individual specific measures to reduce costs – these are usually regarded as tactical and short-term tasks – but rather the creation of an environment in which these measures become easier, more self-evident, even “automatic” to implement.
It is not only research that is familiar with many different models and definitions of maturity levels (also referred to as “purchasing maturity”) – what all these models have in common is a differentiation into mostly five performance categories along different assessment dimensions. The essential contribution of the scientific work in this regard are the relevant assessment dimensions and indications of how these can contribute to sustainable success. Accordingly, three dimensions in particular are demonstrably critical to success:
- Appropriate organizational structure
- Effective internal knowledge exchange
- Relationships with external partners