Latest news

SEB: Taking a diverse approach to procurement


At Markit Forum Virtual 2021 Māris Modriņš (Head of Baltic Procurement) and Andris Korčagins (Head of Workplace) from SEB Bank, one of Markit’s longest standing clients (17 years) shared the stage in a free-flowing open discussion-with Aleksandrs Meļņikovs, Country Manager at Markit Latvia 

What followed was a transparent explanation of how and why SEB is taking a diverse approach to procurement and separating vendor from partner tendering brings additional value. 

Here we pick out some of the key points in note form but to understand more deeply we suggest you watch the video. 

SEB Bank’s main procurement focus areas are: 

  • Compliance with regulations pertinent to heavily regulated financial sector 

  • Tenders and category & spend management. 

  • Sustainable procurement –ensuring suppliers have a long-term view. 

Where possible, SEB consolidate spend to gain leverage with suppliers and work hard to optimise their supplier base, by building strong, long term relationships. Most important is the quality of service, reputation, and transparency of the supplier. 

Cross Baltic tendering is employed for IT category commodities e.g., computers, mobile devices, headsets (software and cars occasionally). Typically, SEB approaches vendors directly and achieves better and more transparent prices per unit but then the question of delivery arises. They take recommendations from vendors but also study the market carefully to see who has local warehouses, service levels, and other added value services. For SEB the ideal approach is when you know price per unit and the price for the service. 

Sustainability is a very important topic. Regulations are on the way from the EU Central Bank and so they tend to use EcoVadis for sustainability screening and have a have a strong code of conduct policy. Suppliers who want to work with SEB must take this into consideration. 

Andris said that during the pandemic, the main thing is to keep business running. SEB had a buffer stock situation (when the pandemic hit) with plenty of IT stock (spare parts, headsets, computers etc.). In fact, this is a regular practice in case of delays. When new deliveries arrive, they return items to the buffer. Response time to demand for remote working equipment was fast. Some people might say buffering stock is frozen money, but it has proved successful risk mitigation strategy for SEB during the pandemic. 

Communication important to inform of deliveries to SEB users. We provide world class service to our internal users. 

With reference to SEB’s new project to automate ordering, Andris explained that the internal web shop idea was borne in 2019 because the team spending lot of time on regular IT orders. We used to get ticket from an employee and then go to the Markit marketplace and buy (quick but still takes a few minutes). So, we built the self-service portal to save time because minutes add up to hours and days. Not everyone believed in the idea that there could be a web shop without payment but now it is up and running and saving time. This means our team members can do more important jobs in other areas. 

There were challenges internally but it depends how you communicate new things. You must sell the benefits and answer the questions. Now you have link and can see what you are buying rather than “request a headset.” After a period of usage, employees said the new system is better. We also see that during the pandemic there are some factory delays which no-one can change but we can manage because of the buffer. The self-service portal is the first step in our self-service area, the rest is secret!  

Asked about the challenges of separating vendor tendering from the partner evaluation and gaining clear benefits for the bank by doing so, Māris replied that more time is needed to plan procurement and deal with vendors with an average lifecycle of two years. Sometimes new technology needs evaluation so there is more planning time consumption, but the benefit is clear when we calculate the saving on the total contract value. 

It was also noted that special pricing in the Baltics is possible because SEB use same equipment in each country. Extending special pricing to the Nordics might result in complexity due to varying vendor prices. Māris also said that Markit delivers a good and transparent saving so I’m happy. 

A happy, successful client. That’s what we like and what motivates us to help more companies to succeed in reducing the time and money they spend on their IT hardware and accessories. 

Watch the SEB presentation on YouTube now.


Read the main Markit Forum Virtual 2021 Report or check the other individual client presentation reports from:

  • Western Union - 6 Principles for Success -Navigating a Changing World 
  • Danfoss - How to Make Your Procurement Future – Proof?​​​​​​​
  • Revolut - Managing procurement while building a hybrid-work company of the future
  • Greentube - How user-centric procurement can drive innovation and influence employee satisfaction 
  • Alantra - Solving IT procurement with speed and efficiency