ATLANTA -- Lever Bros. reduced costs by $65 million by changing its purchasing practices. The New York-based marketer of such brands as Wisk and All detergents instituted a supplier integration process. It was designed to align the suppliers' and manufacturers' processes to maximize the effectiveness of the supply chain. Some of the productivity techniques that Lever used included vendor-managed inventory, transportation optimization, synchronized manufacturing and inventory reduction. Lever's savings were outlined in the "Power of Purchasing," a report from SysteCon, Coopers & Lybrand Consulting's supply chain management practice headquarters here. "Creating supply chain advantages through purchasing is simple, yet powerful," according to the report. "Companies have re-engineered, right sized, activity base costed and ECR'ed their operations, but if you summed the benefits generated by all of those initiatives, they would still pale in comparison to the potential of purchasing. Not because purchasing is completely mismanaged today, but as the bank robber Wilie Sutton answered when asked why he robbed banks, "because that's where the money is."