Gert van der Heijden is the Executive Editor of Spend Matters Netherlands. We plan to feature a significant amount of his commentary more broadly on Spend Matters and the Spend Matters Network, but we first thought we’d introduce you to Gert by sharing some of his thinking on procurement, the Netherlands and why we’re embarking on this new Spend Matters venture together.
Jason: Why do you think the Netherlands needs Spend Matters?
Gert: The Dutch sourcing and procurement community is always open for new and high quality information. Although the Netherlands are pretty small, we do have six professors of purchasing and supply management and a very active sourcing and procurement community. This means there is room for a source of knowledge like Spend Matters. We envision that Spend Matters will bring a view on Global S&P activities to a community that is actively looking for new insights.
Jason: Please give us a quick level set on the Dutch economy.
Gert: Let’s start with some figures. As of August 2012, Holland had a population of 16,751,323. GDP was negative in the third quarter of last year, down 1.5% and unemployment (seasonally adjusted) was 7% in November of last year. Inflation was 2.9% in December. Even though our overall population numbers may look small by EU standards – and our economy is performing like much of the region as well – we have surprisingly strong pockets of high procurement sophistication for a country our size.
Jason: What are some of the most innovative Dutch procurement firms?
Gert: The most innovative include ASML, especially in the way they source innovation at their suppliers. They were the inventors of Value Sourcing. In addition, Unilever, DSM, and AkzoNobel are leading the charge in sustainable sourcing strategies. They are frontrunners in the DJSI.
Jason: How big is the overall market? How many companies do you track in the Netherlands with at least a moderately sophisticated procurement operation?
Gert: I think the overall market of companies more than 20 employees is 32,000. 15,000 have more than 50 employees. Looking at the number of companies with moderately sophisticated organizations, I have personally observed numbers in the range of 10,000-12,000 who will benefit from reading Spend Matters Netherlands. Please note that I have not included the public sector and semi-public sector (energy, broadcasting etc.) in these estimates.
Jason: What can the rest of the world learn from Dutch procurement practices? In what areas are the firms most innovative?
Gert: One of the things others can learn from the Dutch – this also counts for other small countries, like the Denmark – is to be open to the world, speak your languages and explore global opportunities. We can’t afford to be an island (no offense intended to Peter and the UK!)
Stay tuned as our discussion with Gert continues. We’ll also include Peter Smith, Managing Director of Spend Matters UK/Europe, in the exchange as well. For more frequent commentary on Spend Matters globally, check out the Spend Matters Network.