Here at Procurement People we have always prided ourselves on the strength of our network. We have worked tirelessly to grow our own on our way to becoming the No.1 Procurement Network in the UK. What better opportunity than the chance to work closely with 50 other experts in their field, with contacts in major businesses across the UK?
So to my surprise, six months into working under the same roof as us, I had one of my colleagues sheepishly approach me in the kitchen while we were making a round of tea and ask me 'so… what actually is Procurement then?'
It seems that we may have not been quite as proactive as we should have been in spreading our message under our own roof! I think that when you are so immersed in a market, following our own mantra of ‘Inch Wide, Mile Deep’, you sometimes forget that the wider world exists. Perhaps it was inevitable - if you look at the rest of the companies in ENG, the markets they focus on are pretty self explanatory. Network HR? Construction Network? FM Network? I think most people would have a pretty good grasp of what they do. But what is Procurement, and why should people care?
Of course this is the challenge facing procurement on a daily basis. What is the best way to sell Procurement as an integral strategic function, and how do you make sure you have people coming to knock on your office door instead of chasing people and imposing on them?The key is making sure everyone knows the value that procurement can add – after all, it is there to help!
I was worried that I may not have given my colleague a concise enough answer, so I put the question to my colleagues in our London and Birmingham offices. The variety of answers I received showed me just how diverse a role Procurement plays in organisations today.
Obviously the first thing people consider as ‘Procurement’ is cost savings. Yet this is such a minor facet of the function - just look at my colleague Adam Roughton’s blog “Cost vs Value for Money” for a great read on this very topic. While cost savings are still a major part of the job, it is fair to say things have moved on considerably towards ‘value’. Total Cost of Ownership is more of a focus than ever before, as is the debate over Cost Vs Quality.
Another key element is the Supplier relationship management and supplier performance management side of Procurement – who else is going to keep track of all the key suppliers and make sure you are actually getting what you paid for? This is often the best way to capture post-contract value from key business stakeholders – after all, by working collaboratively you are much more likely to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship that stands the test of time and adds value to your business.
And then you have the part procurement play in Risk Mitigation / Sustainability – more than ever companies are challenged to ensure their supply is ethical and reliable. This responsibility often falls onto the shoulders of Procurement, and should the supply of materials or services face disruption, people will have expected Procurement to have built in a contingency.
Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I could continue talking for another few pages about the impact Procurement has on organisations – but I won’t subject you to my rambling!. So, what does Procurement mean to you? Obviously it is a many faceted thing, and the key values to sell are whatever would directly benefit each specific person the most. What approach do you take to get the message across? We know that a major part of Procurement is selling yourself to internal stakeholders – what is your ‘elevator pitch’ to the uninitiated?
By Chris Bradley – Recruitment Consultant – Procurement People