BRUSSELS: Building third-party relationships is a crucial part of the role offered to marketers by procurement departments, a study from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has indicated.

According to the report, procurement can add value for both clients and agencies, with the departments found to be managing budgets wisely, as well as streamlining account management and driving learning and improvement among their client base.

"Those companies that create the environment for procurement to succeed within the marketing category are best placed to generate skills growth within this function," Steve Lightfoot, communications procurement manager at the WFA, said.

"Enabling marketing procurement to fully engage with the marketing spend creates the right conditions for breeding sourcing expertise that boosts marketing efficiency."

Among the survey participants - the majority of which worked in procurement, sourcing or purchasing - 70% said their organisation managed money well, while 60% said it was good or excellent at building third-party relationships.

Despite the widespread unpopularity of outsourcing among agencies, reducing cost is not the only focus of procurement.

"Sourcing specialists are looking to increase the impact of marketing communications as well as keep costs competitive," the report added.

"Overall global procurement specialists rank building third-party relationships as the most important element in their drive to improve the efficiency of marketing activities."

While what the report calls "traditional procurement levers" around cost-reduction tend to attract approval in the early stage of a relationship, optimising processes and driving improvements are also key benefits.

Further progress is driven by both the capability of the procurement team and the readiness of the organisation to move beyond a pure cost focus.

Data sourced from World Federation of Advertisers; additional content by Warc staff