Achieving More With Less During a Downturn

Image of a desk setup on the blog about achieving more in a downturn

The “more with less” challenges can easily lead to burnout, frustration, a rise in sick leave, as well as a lack of engagement and a demotivated team if this conundrum is not managed properly.

Let’s be honest, most experienced Procurement Managers don’t enjoy performing administrative tasks. 

And yet, the typical Procurement Manager or Category Manager often spends at least a third of their time performing “busy work” that is not adding any tangible value to the business.

There are three possibilities to remedy this:

  • Eliminate
  • Automate
  • Delegate


Which processes are unnecessary? 

Regulatory and compliance processes are a necessary evil. But are there ways you can simplify them? 

Are processes bloated because they have been added to over time? Start with a blank sheet of paper and design from scratch, rather than modifying existing processes.

Then of course there are those processes that just create work for work‘s sake. Travel authorisation requests are a great example.

Just get rid of them.


Digitisation is often heralded as the knight in shining armour.

Is it part of the solution? Sure!

It’s not a stand-alone solution within itself though and should be considered as part of an overall efficiency improvement or transformation strategy.

Another common concern is cost.

Yes, procurement software certainly isn’t free, but times are changing and you don’t need a massive budget and an army of consultants to implement some of the newer “best of breed“ solutions.

This brings us to the easiest solution to implement.


Delegating workload to junior staff members is fully within the control of your department and budget. What’s more, it can enable you to deliver more to the business, increase the size of your team, and maintain the same overall wage bill.

That to me sounds like a win-win scenario. Everybody benefits, your team, the business, your stakeholders and your suppliers.

Start by asking your Category Managers to write down all the tasks that typically occupy their time during any given week and put them into three columns:

  • Strategic
  • Operational
  • Transactional

For the operational and transactional columns, how many of these tasks could be performed by a temporary worker from an agency for a lower hourly or daily rate than what your Procurement managers are de facto earning?

You can calculate this easily by dividing their annual salary plus employer costs by the number of days worked, and then the number of hours in an average workday.

This gives you their effective hourly rate and provides a rough picture of where your waste (and opportunity) is buried.

Do you really need a team of 10 Category Managers?

Or could a team of eight Category Managers, one Junior Buyer, one Data Analyst and two Administrative Assistants help you deliver better results for the same wage bill?

If the eight Category Managers are each able to deliver around a third more as a result of their being able to delegate their operational and transactional work to the appropriate staff the numbers most definitely add up.


Having the appropriate team structure for the new normal is essential to ensure your team functions as an effective, efficient and enthusiastic unit.

More people, with the workload, are delegated to the appropriate team members, but without increasing your wage bill.

That’s the fastest way to deliver more under challenging economic and budgetary constraints.

About the Author

James Meads is an independent procurement consultant bringing 17 years of procurement knowledge from roles in major automotive and FMCG companies in Europe and Africa, both in directs and indirects.

He’s lived abroad since 2006, working in five different countries. He also hosts a weekly podcast called The Procuretech Podcast all about digital procurement tools and transformation and is currently based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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