May 19, 2009
Exactly why did you get involved in procurement? Putting aside those that couldn't find any thing better to do with themselves, you would hope that it might be something to do with deal negotiation or contributing to the profitability of the employing company. Even for those working in the public sector you would expect to see something about delivering best value for money to the tax payer.
The last ten years has seen the emergence of a new fad, corporate and social responsibility or CSR as it is commonly referred to. The 'C' bit does not create issues for most people, since well run suppliers that comply with strong codes of business ethics and probity is something we can all aspire to become. Most business have little problem with this approach either.
Then we have the 'S' bit. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, an industry emerges. Well meaning people, and perhaps some others that actually perform no useful role in the organisation, are there banging on the door of the procurement department. Are our suppliers complying with this policy or that policy? Do our sole traders have an equal opportunities policy, demanding to know what market research the organisation is doing to save the planet whilst seeking ridiculous levels of public liability insurance in case someone walks into a closed door?
The list is endless and it is not all made up by the Daily Mail to wind up middle England (Birmingham?). As purchasers and suppliers, we know it is happening all the time and that it is also a gigantic waste of time. Suppliers will either not do business with the worst offenders or will simply make up the answers and 'tick the box' so that they can get on with securing the deal.
The private sector has been experiencing the economic downturn for some 18 months ago. Cash has become king again and people in procurement have worked hard to help their company stay afloat. The public sector gets its downturn in 2011/12 when the government of the day has to balance the books of The UK Ltd! Perhaps they should be asking themselves, 'What is procurement's primary purpose'?