Monday 30 June 2014

BravoConnect 2014: The Evolution of Procurement

By Matthew Gradidge

My last blog post on Jim Wetekamp’s session about technology in Procurement left us thinking about whether or not we’re keeping our Procurement processes up to date. A great question which led us nicely onto David Smith, who provided insight into the evolution of Procurement (predominantly with the UK public sector, but with the odd nod towards private sector).

We began with a history on the profession from IPS to CIPS with only a few in the room recognising this humble beginning 82 years ago. We then jumped to the 80s where the use of technology was very much limited to requisitions on carbon pads & paper based orders. David at this point posed the question; is procurement sexy? Much like the fashion of the 80s, I think the view in the room was that it is not. But it can be. We could and should be involved in all procurements, from battleships to biros. How is procuring a battleship not sexy?

Moving on, a brief overview of how the political agendas of Blair, Thatcher and now Cameron have played their part in highlighting the importance of controlling spend and efficient buying; cost reduction, efficiencies and quality of service which, in turn, will enable the delivery of core business. But of course we all know this right? But, if we do all know this, why do so many procurement departments still lack the ability to deliver on the above? What do you think is holding things back?

David believes, and somewhat agrees with Jim Wetekamp, we have all the tools and technology but we potentially lack some of the skills and abilities required. We should be encouraging more talent to the procurement function and championing the profession not just within our organisations but to externally sell it and attract the skills and resources we need. So, connecting internally to give procurement its voice and create a space at the table for us, and connecting externally to bring in the skills required to ensure procurement has a future within the technological sphere.

We are in the spotlight more than ever, what we do is becoming more and more high profile and relevant to the everyday running of an organisation. So why is procurement still not a profession of choice? I, for one, think that there are a few more barriers here that are preventing talent from coming in. What we all need to do is look at making a difference and opening up opportunities for fresh talent to aid us in the management of the vast amounts of data, stakeholders, technology and processes.

We need to make procurement sexy! How about a pin-up procurement calendar?? No? OK, maybe not. Back to the drawing board then...

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