Procurement - stop doing these things!

Rich Sains
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We have seen many 'once in a career' supply disruptions over the last couple of years, positioning Procurement front and centre to mitigate these risks. Now, we have a talent shortage whilst teams are working over capacity for the third consecutive year.

Something has to give - we need to stop doing things that we just don't have time for.

Last week, on The Procurement Conversation Kirsty, Martin and I were joined by Tom Mills and we got into this topic - here's what we came up with:

  • Stop sounding like a CIPS textbook when talking to people in the business. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. We need to be engaging and clear in our communication - not out to baffle our stakeholders.
  • Stop cookie-cutter recruiting - tear up out of date job specifications. Old and misleading job specs do not help get the talent we need into the profession.
  • Stop operating in the past - stop operating an old school methodology and stop hiring complete younger copies of yourself! We need more diverse thinking in Procurement.
  • Stop just adding more and more to the process, and start taking some things out. Like contracts, they get longer and longer over time but this constrains the business when we need to be moving more quickly.
  • Stop allowing self-confidence to be eroded by business - we know how to drive the best value and have an important role to play within our organisations.
  • Stop working in a silo and start bringing people in outside of Procurement. Need to see more people moving in and out of Procurement, to get learning from other disciplines.
  • Stop trying to do (and control) everything. We need to give the business ability to buy low value, low risk items themselves.
  • Stop saying one thing and then doing the other - practice what you preach. If you're discussing a partnership, don't send over a contract with rigid and onerous terms. Not a great way to start a partnership!
  • Stop using generic templates, without modifying them to the discussion / requirement.
  • Stop seeing suppliers as the enemies and start being decent human beings - we should be leading the charge in doing business in a grown-up way with integrity.
  • Stop being process-oriented, start being more relationship-oriented and more genuinely collaborative.
  • Stop ghosting suppliers when they are not picked for projects (be a decent human and give time to debrief!)
  • Stop the ego when it comes to Procurement. Sometimes, individuals will claim that they delivered savings whereas we should be talking about the value driven alongside the business.
  • Stop tracking metrics that businesses don’t care about. Some traditional metrics are quite meaningless to business and have been used to justify procurement's existence through ROI. Start determining the right metrics - ideally shared with the business.
  • Stop talking, start listening. Demonstrate what Procurement does, if people don’t understand what your role is - it’s not on them, it’s on you.
  • Stop setting your team up for failure, and start supporting them
  • On LinkedIn - Procurement Leaders should stop lurking, and start to engage (we need to be more open). We should be transparent to get young people interested in procurement. The individual is now more important in promoting the business online than the business promoting itself.
  • Stop posting for the sake of posting - great content is king!

From the audience:

  • James Meads: Stop thinking like technocrats, start innovating, and be more open to radical change. 
  • Sarah Bean: Stop negotiating by email, make human contact.
  • Richard Struthers: Change our mindset - We're not servants, we're peers.
  • Erik McMillan: Stop building complex processes without input from business partners // Strategies for properly building processes that include different elements of the business
  • Ben Paynter: Stop ignoring innovators and startups for lack of maturity, there are actual commercial advantages of being an early adopter
  • Nick Langham: Stop doubting the massive impact Procurement can and should have on the success of a business - and walk away from those businesses that fail to enable their procurement teams to realise that success!

Thanks for everyone who joined in the discussion - The Procurement Conversation is also available as a podcast.

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