How a Procurement Team Can Decrease Time-to-Market in ETO (Engineer-to-Order) Manufacturing


Engineer-to-order firms are faced with a vast array of issues due to the unique complexity of each project. This makes it a challenge to come up with finalised products quickly.

To overcome this challenge, procurement teams in ETO firms have to work smart and communicate effectively.

In this post, we’ll address some of the ways in which procurement teams can do this and, consequently, reduce the time it takes for products to become ready.

What is a procurement team?

A procurement team is a group of people who are responsible for the acquisition of supplies and services required for project implementation in a firm. 

An efficient procurement team is critical to the success of an organisation’s goals. Its responsibilities range from sourcing and maintaining relationships with suppliers, to selecting goods and services for purchase and setting terms for payment, and they directly correlate with customer satisfaction, production costs and, ultimately, the bottom line of a company.

If a procurement team works efficiently, the time-to-market (the time it takes for a product to become available for sale) is decreased, which is a good thing as you’ll soon learn.

In ETO manufacturing firms, where time-to-market times are even longer than usual, an efficient procurement team is especially important.

Our focus in this post will be on some of the ways procurement teams can further decrease time-to-market times in ETO manufacturing because it’s one of the main differentiators of professional ETO firms from entrepreneurial ones.

Why decrease time-to-market in ETO manufacturing?

As promised, we’ll go a little bit more in-depth on why decreasing time-to-market times is important in ETO manufacturing.

Let’s talk a little bit about engineer-to-order firms.

What makes ETO firms different is that they have to make unique products from start to finish, including  designing, engineering, and production. Products are customised to a customer’s needs, and the process is, therefore, longer and more complicated.

ETO firms have to deal with a lot of complex issues. Since they’re not dealing with pre-designed products, the whole process of getting an order fulfilled takes a lot of planning and coordination (now imagine having to juggle multiple orders at the same time!)

This poses a big problem for ETO manufacturing:  long time-to-market times

Being able to accomplish orders faster results in better cash flow and in higher customer satisfaction, as well as in many other benefits,  which puts you ahead of the competition. But when there are so many things to do until the order is completed, getting them fulfilled quickly is a challenge.

So, what can you do to improve your time-to-market times and, consequently, your brand’s reputation?

Here’s the answer:

Ways to reduce time-to-market times in ETO manufacturing

Improve workflow

A well-made workflow process is an essential part of doing business. Having a workflow process helps your business to get work done in the most efficient way possible. It allows you to know exactly which steps to take and which decisions to make in each situation.

For procurement teams, it’s even more important. Due to the nature of their work, which requires a lot of steps, and different measures depending on their outcomes, a workflow process is mandatory.

Procurement workspace connecting workflow and communication

For decades, the norm has been to use paper forms and spreadsheets to record and manage workflow. But these old methods are much harder to deal with, and companies are moving to better, more modern software alternatives such as ProcurementFlow.com. And if your priority is to reduce time-to-market times and improve workflow, you should use  procurement software too.

Spend analysis

By taking a look at what different suppliers have to offer, you can reduce time-to-market times and get your product ready more quickly. 

Unless there’s a more favourable supplier due to pricing, quality, or other reasons, pick the supplier that can deliver goods as early as possible.

Why? Because the sooner that you have the supplies to begin producing your product, the earlier it will be ready to deliver to the client.To make this process easier and to make better and more organised decisions,  procurement software can come in handy. 

Tools like ProcurementFlow.com, which provides valuable insight into vendor offers, can help you make faster and more accurate decisions when picking suppliers, reducing time-to-market times even more.

Avoid human errors

One of the most common things that increases time-to-market times is human error.

Humans inevitably make mistakes. It can happen to the suppliers, to your engineers, to your designers, and to your procurement team.

But mistakes are less common when the right conditions are in place. For example, if you give employees in your procurement team a sheet with clear guidelines, they’re less likely to make mistakes than if they were simply told what to do.

One of the best things you can do to minimise human error in your supply chain is to implement a procurement tool. With a procurement tool, people can communicate more easily and effectively, and everything is in the same place, including orders for suppliers, quotes, notes, questions and answers. This creates an environment where human error is much rarer and every step is stored systematically.

Effective communication

Effective communication can significantly contribute to decreasing your time-to-market times.

For example, when changes need to be made to a product, which is something that happens all the time, being able to quickly communicate with the people involved in the project is crucial to minimising time waste.

Another example where efficient communication can help to decrease time-to-market times is when bidding and sourcing for products with multiple suppliers.

Traditional methods, such as email, are not optimal for these activities and result in more wasted time. The best thing you can do is to use a procurement tool, in order to make communication a breeze.

Looking for a procurement tool to make your procurement team’s work a breeze?

Take a look at ProcurementFlow.com, a digital workspace and collaboration platform to bring clarity where it’s most needed. It keeps all supplier-related information in one single SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) system. It effectively maintains process status and uses a logical workflow to move procurement projects from one step to another. Collaboration between different functions is embraced and what is most important is that everyone in the team is always on the same page.


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