Case study: Interim Procurement Consultant at Achilles Information Ltd
Paul Wright, Consultant in our Technology Practice talks to Interim Manager Kevin Alexander about streamlining the products platform for the world leader in supply chain risk and management
Achilles is a global leader in pre-qualification and provides a range of products and services that help buying organisations manage supply chain risk and monitor compliance. Facing a large scale change management initiative, the company wanted to enhance their product team, streamline their offering, simultaneously transferring their entire solution suite onto a single database. Requiring a comprehensive overhaul of its IT platforms and software, the aim was to unlock a wide range of customer benefits, including a significant simplification of supplier registration and a one-stop search function for buyers across different sectors and geographies.
Achilles wanted to offer both buyer and suppliers a more user friendly experience driven by key principles of simplicity, reduced ambiguity and a fit for purpose risk assessment geared toward the risk profile of suppliers. With nearly 60 product varieties for a range of sectors, they needed a senior leader with extensive supply chain and procurement knowledge.
The project required a complete transformation of the subscription and billing model, the payment management system and the way products are packaged. It meant modernising the approach to supplier questionnaires and introducing a range of supply chain analytics at the same time as transferring their legacy data and assessment information onto a new platform. There was also a requirement for the risk questionnaire to broaden its traditional focus on safety, quality, environmental and financial risks to address a wide range of emerging supply chain and reputational risks, such as ‘Tier 2’ supplier management, subcontracting, diversity, cyber and data security.
Ultimately, it was a business transformation journey that went hand in hand with extensive product development. Achilles turned to Odgers Interim to help them find someone to carry this out.
Kevin Alexander was selected to join the company as an Interim Product Director in January 2018. Having previously held Director and Project Leader roles in the private and public sector including the BBC, P&O Ferries and Shell, Kevin brought with him extensive experience in large scale procurement and project implementation.
Driving the transformation project, Kevin established a category-led approach to content management, establishing a set of requirements that can be flexed according to a supplier’s risk profile. It enabled Achilles to provide a compelling ‘fit for purpose’ based proposition. This has required modernising the approach to questionnaire management, rationalising a content database of over 5,000 questions down to a list that represents a best practice set of topics and questions. The design is evidence-based with suppliers required to demonstrate either third party certification or clear policy statements in support of qualification.
Working with the Achilles product and development teams, Kevin has supported the operationalisation of the business transformation strategy and turned it into something tangible. Achilles is about to launch its newly designed portal, which now provides a more coherent service that offers a higher standard of supply chain qualification. Using their banks of data for market intelligence, Achilles is now also able to offer accompanying analytics and a service that is truly geared toward activities and scope-specific risks.
Kevin has also supported the newly established Achilles Analytics team, which has introduced data driven reports that provide specific insight to community users and a benchmarking service to buyers, so they can compare their supply base to the community as a whole. This includes analysis of specific topics, such as Decommissioning in the North Sea, and presentations at Buyer/Supplier events to share key trends.
Kevin was so successful in his role that Achilles asked him to stay on permanently. He became the company’s Director of Procurement Solutions in July 2018.
Commenting on the assignment, Kevin said, “I found working with Paul to be an absolute pleasure – he has a straightforward approach that is transparent and ensures there are no nasty surprises once the engagement is underway. At the outset, he gave me a very clear briefing about the challenge facing Achilles and the expectations about the engagement should it prove to be successful. It was particularly helpful to get Paul’s insight about working in a SaaS-based product development environment, which was an aspect of the role I was less familiar with and may otherwise have led to me overlooking the opportunity.
It was also great that Paul stayed in touch after the engagement started, ensuring that it was proceeding as anticipated. This was my second interim assignment with Odgers Interim and I have found both to be great experiences. I would not hesitate to recommend Paul as someone who provides the right balance between a client’s and candidate’s needs”.
Tim James, Achilles’ Chief Technology Officer, was very impressed with both Kevin and our ability to carry out such a successful search. He said, “A business providing solutions to help supply chain leaders who make risk-based decisions needed insights from one of their own. Approaching Paul Wright at Odgers Interim, I gave him the almost impossible brief of finding me a leader in supply chain and procurement to shape our capability. Against the odds he found me not just a great leader but someone who really understood the challenge.”