Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada with offices, partners and resellers worldwide, Mitel Networks Corporation is a leading global provider of enterprise and small business communications solutions and services. The company focuses on blending powerful infrastructure with an intuitive human interface to deliver the benefits of voice, video and data convergence to the user.
With an emphasis on the user experience, the company delivers advanced communications solutions that are easily customised for individual business needs. Mitel Networks' broad portfolio of solutions provides advanced voice, video and data communications platforms, desktop phones and internet appliances, intuitive applications for customer relationship management and mobility, messaging and multimedia.
As a large technology-based company and solutions provider, Mitel has complex and wide ranging procurement needs. As well as integrating Mitel software in third party products for the manufacture of voice and data systems, purchasing IT for the company's internal requirements is a major logistical exercise. "We used to have a large in-house procurement team of about 16 people, covering all aspects of our business needs including project management on the manufacturing side," explained Tony Smith, Procurement Specialist for Mitel Networks in the UK.
"About three years ago the manufacturing part of the business was outsourced and now operates as a separate company. At that time we decided we needed a reseller to handle all aspects of IT purchasing." The company looked for a supplier that could offer one stop delivery, a breadth of technical expertise and the capability to offer value added services.
The sheer range of technical products and components might have presented a challenge for less experienced procurement teams or a reseller with too narrow a focus. "Our purchasing requests vary from large servers to single data cartridges, components for PDAs or obscure cabling for broadband boxes for our homeworkers.
We also buy from multiple manufacturers - quite a tall order for a single supplier," said Tony. Mitel also needed a service offering a high level of product integration such as loading and pre-configuring software and operating systems on PCs. "That aspect of supply is probably less important now as software has become much easier to install but we still prefer to outsource those jobs - it can take around three hours to load and configure a PC properly," said Tony. In addition to flexible and reliable service standards and a transparent pricing structure, the capability to offer online ordering was also preferred.
Mitel selected Transputec as its single, one-stop procurement partner and the contract has run successfully for the last four years. "Transputec is able to source supplies at very competitive prices and we pay a fixed mark up so we know we are getting good value for money," said Tony. A lot of Mitel's spend goes on ad hoc procurement but the company buys all their laptops and desktops through the channel.
Mitel is also involved in a PFI contract to supply the IT infrastructure and support for primary and secondary schools in Scotland. "That's an indication of the volume and variety of our IT sourcing. Transputec will field any request and deliver fast. We don't see the need for a formal service level agreement, as turn around is so prompt. Transputec is very responsive, the arrangement works very well."
As many as a dozen Mitel staff will contact Transputec with a total average of two requests each day.
Transputec fulfills all of Mitel's third party procurement criteria and provides comprehensive sourcing and delivery to consistently high standards. "We generally get quotes back within half an hour and next day delivery is achieved on a routine basis," reports Tony. The large volumes of ad hoc requests are also quickly fulfilled. "We might phone up on a Monday with a weird and wonderful request for an obscure piece of kit and perhaps not even know what it's called - sometimes we just have a picture of it. The guys at Transputec will know what it is and where to get it." Tony particularly likes Transputec's responsive approach: "The phone is always answered within two or three rings which is exactly what we need."
Service consistency is also important and results from a successful working relationship between the two companies. Transputec's Mark Nightingale is Mitel's Account Manager and first port of call but the rest of the procurement team provides full backup. "We draw on a huge pool of expertise at Transputec. That complementary range of technical know how, product knowledge and negotiating flair is a formidable skill set - they make a great team," said Tony.
Tony believes that the right pricing structure is key to delivering value in a third party procurement contract. A fixed price deal creates visibility and allows cost/benefits to be more accurately assessed. "Transparent pricing is a definite advantage and carries it's own premium in such a complex area of corporate procurement," said Tony.
"We're very happy with the mark up as we used to do all our own IT buying so we know how much work is involved - all that admin and paperwork is one major headache we are pleased to do without." Transputec ensures all documentation conforms to Mitel's corporate standards and processes (such as SAP numbers) and all documentation is sent to the Canadian HQ. Transputec takes care of the delivery and shipping process, re-routing items to all the right locations and returning goods if necessary. "Occasionally we have an issue with stock that has to go back and it can be a real hassle contacting distributor's hotlines. Transputec takes care of everything," said Tony.