Sustainable Practices in the Purchase of Services
Abstract: This study takes an in-depth look at sustainable procurement criteria used in the procurement of indirect services. A gap is identified in the literature analysis in the knowledge of sustainable procurement strategies and practice methods for the purchase of services and indirect spend categories. The author uses a case study method to investigate how sustainable procurement of indirect services is managed within a leading global retail company. Practices at the case study company are compared and analyzed to identify how procurement processes in place differ between direct product purchasing and the indirect procurement of services. Then, the author uses a benchmarking tool to estimate the sustainable purchasing maturity level within different areas of purchasing at the company. In order to address the second research question, a survey of existing criteria and guidelines for services is conducted in order to identify guidelines that have been developed and/or are in use to support sustainable procurement of service category purchases. Case study findings supported findings from the literature review in the observation of less developed guidelines and selection criteria in use to manage the sustainable procurement of indirect service purchases. The exploration of existing procurement guidelines for services yielded two different areas for further analysis. The first area included specific categories and/or sectors of services such as catering, travel services, or laundry services. The second area for analysis included guidelines and standards developed for general use in any service type. Criteria included in general service guidelines are analyzed and evaluated to later provide a list of recommended criteria that the case study could potentially employ for use in a scorecard developed for general use in services. The author then comments on trends observed in the development of specific service category guidelines and broader contextual influences that may also play a role in effective sustainable procurement.
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