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Why procurement can be its own worst enemy

Why procurement can be its own worst enemy

Richard Shelley Procurement, Supply Chain, hiring...

There’s no doubt that procurement is evolving - anyone operating in the sector will be able to recognise that. In fact, a recent speech by Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group, Chris Sawchuk, discussed how procurement can elevate its role and stay relevant in today’s business landscape. He spoke about how the traditional value of spend and costs saving must evolve and instead the debate must be anchored around what we want that value to be. In addition, he spoke about how procurement can be an enabler of innovation within a firm and how it needs to become increasingly agile.

Process over relationships

This is all true – but unfortunately there are still functions that focus on the wrong measurements and have a process-driven, transactional approach, rather than a strategic, relationship-driven one.

Our own experiences have reinforced that very issue. We work with a lot of public and private sector firms and are well versed in e-procurement systems. All we supply is talent – that’s it – and as a result we can say with certainty that we’re specialists in the procurement and supply chain fields. We’ve done this for many years and have staff who are true experts in their specific niche vertical markets.

No focus on specialists

But, when we submitted a tender via an e-procurement system and weren’t successful we were surprised and pressed for feedback. Incredibly, we were told that there are no marks awarded for being a procurement specialist – which seemed completely counter intuitive. After all, talent is a critical, crucial, unavoidably important factor in making an organisation what it is. Does it not then seem bizarre that there’s no focus on relationships or specialisms? It highlights that the process is essentially a race to the bottom to find the cheapest price and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what’s being bought. It’s not a razor, or a computer system– talent is a talking, living thing with emotions, drivers, experiences and motivators and requires so much more than a transactional approach.

Procurement teams need to be able to measure non-financial elements of a deal. And if the function wants to rid itself of an unwanted reputation as a process-driven, unimaginative and non-creative function then it should look at how it delivers real intrinsic value.

Chris Cliffe, Procurement Director of CJC, puts it best:

“If you have the right people talking to the right people, the right team from the right supplier – the right team from the buyer – all talking about the right things, the chance of success are far greater.”

We couldn’t agree more!

If you are considering a new role take a look at our latest job listings – and if you are looking for new talent read about our talent attraction strategies and how we add value.