The 12 Myths of Procurement – Down-Under

Dave HenshallProcess

KoalaThe Australian Purchasing Professional magazine recently published an interesting insight into procurement life down- under, in a paper published by Guy Callender, CIPSA Foundation Professor and Professor and chair of Leadership in Strategic Procurement at Curtin University of  Technology.

The paper touches on many issues for the wider professional development worldwide, to which I add a personal perspective below:


Lets be clear, Procurement is still a developing profession. Somewhat uniquely in this day and age it makes it the first profession with the opportunity to define itself for the modern world, so lets take advantage of a significant opportunity.

2. Whats in a name?:

Whilst personally I tire of all the debate over the name, it probably does need to be resolved. The problem is our professional bodies like CIPS and the ISM have flipped on this many times over the years, and probably reflects the developing nature of our profession, which has come a long way – but still has far to go to reach its full potential value and contribution to business, government and other agencies alike. So lets get on with it by coming together and reaching consensus and focus ourselves on further progressing the function so we can force yet anouther name review.

3. Professional Representation:

Again the professional bodies need to act, there is significant opportunity to practice a common procurement practice ‘supplier consolidation, Our bodies should amalgamate and stop trying to carve out separate roles which do not add value to the profession. A unified professional body would be a major achievement and step to create a stronger profession.

4. Credible Reference Materials:

There is a significant body of work these days on procurement. Problem is, it is not adequately joined together. I have long said that there are many people who know a lot about key aspects of procurement, but very few who can put it all together. The body of academic and professional work needs to address this.

One fairly basic aspect that is still surprisingly missing is a detailed ‘how to buy’ knowledge base  on a category by category basis that professionals can go to . This knowledge is largely gained through experience and other than limited effort from CIPS remains uncaptured in reference books.

5. Just a Process:

To define procurement as just a process demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of procurement and what will increasingly separate leaders from laggards in the future. More and more, organisational culture and mind set will separate these two bodies of organisations.

6. IT in Procurement:

That usable IT solutions have taken until recent times, demonstrates just how complicated the procurement process is. Even now there is a long way to go. What is good is that IT systems are beginning to provide the transparency and control necessary to combine efficiency with effectiveness.

7. Value Chain:

It is indefensible for our professional bodies not to have challenged and redefined Porters Value Chain to promote the profession and modernise this model. Value chain analysis will become increasingly important in the future and procurement needs an accepted model that defines it as a core business process.

8. Professional Induction:

Our professional bodies should recognise more than ever before, our young professionals need to secure their degree before moving on to professional programmes. The move towards more post graduate development therefore seems a logical progression.

9. Procurement is Simple:

Procurement has become arguably the most complex and demanding profession around today. In part this is due to the fact that it is still developing and therefore continuing to break new ground and force change before its practices are fully accepted. Many professionals still fight daily to do the job they were hired to do and work in a hostile environment. A great amount of resilience is still required.

10. Services:

The move towards more service oriented economies amongst western nations is changing the demands upon procurement. Procurement must ensure it is equipped and prepared to lead on this change to stay relevant.

11. The Future:

Procurement has attracted the attention of businesses, professionals, academics, consultants, solutions providers and now graduates world wide. Its future is bright but remains challenging with much more work to do.

There has never been a better time to be in the procurement profession.

Having traveled this evolutionary journey for several decades, I feel privileged to have been old enough to have played a part in this, the longest of change management programmes and still young enough to increasingly play a part in its future development. This ability to look back to our beginnings and yet envision what still could be is the most rewarding of journeys.

Nuff said …