Synergy Dispatch: The SarbOx/ Maverick Purchasing Crutch

When it comes to describing pressing Spend Management issues, there's not enough compelling rhetoric out there. If I had a Euro -- I've sworn off the dollar this quarter, given its proven a horrible investment of late -- for every time sometime tossed out the phrases "cost savings" or "compliance" to describe a reason to take action, I'd be retired. That is, unless I was in France, in which case even my heirs would be stuck paying taxes on it ad infinitum (well, maybe not now after the election results last week -- I'll save my commentary on this for a post on it later in the week).

But seriously, there's not enough really compelling language out there to spark people to take action. Theresa Metty is out to change this. I absolutely love her description of maverick purchases. To Theresa, thwarting them is not just a reason to invest in eProcurement. No, they're something much greater than that. To wit, "maverick purchases are scary, ugly, nasty, risky, unprotected, potentially-deadly, liability laden deals that are full of land minds, any one of which could put a company on the front page of the Wall street journal".

Now, I call that a description to write home about. But rhetoric like this needs strong supporting evidence to justify serious investments rather than just grabbing headlines inside a company. For Theresa, this back-up is Sarbanes-Oxley (or SarbOx). She believes that "SarbOx is the single greatest windfall benefit to our profession in the history of procurement.” In other words, there has never before been a greater need to manage risk by ensuring purchasing controls and compliance -- at all levels within an organization. In this environment, a CEO can no longer afford to risk decentralized, uncontrolled purchases.

Personally, I think it's a bloody cop-out that procurement needs to latch onto a frigging regulatory issue -- and one that is harming the US competitiveness, in my book -- to elevate its role within the organization. As if sustainable total cost savings, a more competitive overall supply chain, and real risk reduction was not enough to get us a seat on the executive team! But if it's the case, so be it.

Theresa claims it has the potential to be. Perhaps procurement should heed Theresa's advice about enlisting the support of internal audit to aid their cause in rallying troops and budgets to tackle the biggest over-reaction to corporate malfeasance in the history of this country. Regardless, let's hope that as a group, we eventually come to our senses and play the merit and not the regulatory card to elevate our issues. Incidentally, were any other supply siders and free traders as disappointed by the Republican primary debate last week as me? Where are the intellectual heirs to Reagan and Goldwater when we need them most for the future of the global economy and free markets?

Jason Busch

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