Procurement Development: Netherlands-Style

Today brings a post from Gert van der Heijden, executive editor of Spend Matters Netherlands. Gert will be checking in with the English-language sites weekly, providing news and translations from the Netherlands.

Last week I wrote about the start of Spend Matters Netherlands. This week I will try to tell you a little bit more on the development in of procurement in the Netherlands over the years. The development of the procurement function started in the 80’s and 90’s of the last century.

Surprisingly enough, for a country with less than 17 million citizens, we have the third biggest sourcing and procurement community in the world! Of course the US (ISM) and the UK (CIPS) are bigger, but anyway, that’s something. We do have six professors in University, sponsored by Nevi.

On one hand, we do publish a lot on procurement and are quite scientific. On the other hand, we’re a little less professional then our Anglo-Saxon brothers and sisters. Of course our Dutch Leaders in Procurement (Unilever, DSM, AkzoNobel, ASML and a few others) are ahead of the troops. They are trying to optimize procurement execution using state of the art technology. But we have an enormous group of laggards as well.

And what they are doing, I described last week in one of the blogs. They are adopting methodologies and tools, but do not really have a clue how to handle them.

I will give you one example: Rijkswaterstaat, the executive arm of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, won last year the Dutch sourcing Award for best achievement in the category Operational Excellence and went on to win the overall award for 2012. This all because of an excellent team trying to improve the Dutch roads at an enormous speed. They were using the methodology of Professor Dean Kashiwagi, of Arizona State University, called Best Value Procurement.

We then saw large groups of Dutch Public Procurement Organizations adopting the methodology without really understanding of the content. They were supported by loads of consultants, who did not really understand what they were doing either.

We, the Dutch, love hypes, manias and models. And, by the way, I have to commit I’m one of them. I wrote in the past Models for Purchasing and Supply Management. So who am I to blame someone else…?

Stay tuned for next week’s update!

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