Sales Essentials Blog

Procurement can be the epicentre of innovation

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Procurement, whether they are aware of it or not, are the epicentre of innovation and leadership of complex systems management within organisations and across the supply chain, or at least they should be.

Their exposure to all elements of the supply chain can and should inform them and in turn other key stakeholders within and outside their organisations of the latest, the easiest, most sustainable, faster, ethical, better ways of doing business.

While they cannot expect to be experts in every area of business, they can and should be experts in systems, managing complexity and managing relationships which is what a supply chain is. Procurement professionals need to be more systems oriented in their approach and understand and facilitate the interconnected web of business, human relationships, sustainability, innovation and ethical sourcing.

Is this being taught or trained in Procurement School?

Is this being encouraged from within businesses from the C-suite down?

I am not sure.

Why is this important?

Because the biggest killer of innovation in any business is often the procurement process itself. When an RFP (request for proposal) is reduced to a tight specification brief for a shortlist of 3 suppliers and no room for alternative ideas or offers, or is poorly written with no understanding of the real impact on the business, then innovation, ideas, smart people and better ways of doing business are cut out of the equation.  It’s like living in a walled city with no idea about what is happening in the outside world.

So what are we doing about it? Who is responsible? Where can we start?

Well, first of all, innovation and managing complexity should be a top priority on the agenda of every Australian Board and C-Suit. If it’s not, then they are not doing their jobs properly.

But why wait for them?

Given Procurement can often be a bottleneck for innovation, why not start there? From the pragmatic place of the day to day operations of business.

This is where Procurement can and should step in and take the lead.

However, if Procurement professionals decide to stick to their compliant, cost managed, automated procurement process of operating that keep suppliers and ideas at bay and remain the budget adhering lackeys of Finance, they are at risk of becoming obsolete and doing everyone else a great disservice thus leaving organisations, people and communities vulnerable and in danger of obsolescence.

No pressure Procurement Professionals, but you can and should be the epicentre of innovation, the open gateway to ideas and opportunities and leaders of complex systems management within organisations and across the supply chain.

Where to next?

Procurement need to reset their brand and value proposition and learn, ironically, how to sell themselves better and excel at consultative solution selling practices.

Ben Shute, who we work with arm in arm bridging the divide between sales and procurement, has written an article Holy Trinity of Procurement Skills – take a look. It’s a great read.

Procurement, please step up and take the lead; we desperately need you.

Author: Sue Barrett, 


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