New Edition of Caroline Booth’s Book – Strategic Procurement

It is almost four years since Kogan Page published 'Strategic Procurement - Organizing suppliers and supply chains for competitive advantage', by Caroline Booth. The author, Caroline Booth, was CPO at Lloyds Banking Group when she wrote the book but then emigrated to become CPO in Canada. A new edition of the book has been published, so we’ll take a quick look at the changes – but first, here is what we said about the first edition when it came out.

“Strategic Procurement is an unusual procurement book in that it is aimed perhaps more at executives outside the function than those inside.  That's not a criticism; if we're serious about getting more recognition at senior levels, we need to get ideas across to senior people. ..

It makes for an interesting mix of content in that some of it might seem quite basic for a procurement audience (explanations of supply chains, Kraljic matrix), while other sections talk at a Board level about supplier relationships, strategic outsourcing and similar ideas.  Having said that, as well as being undoubtedly useful to the non-specialist readership, it would be well worth reading for bright people coming into the procurement function, to give them the 'big picture' of how procurement contributes to the wider organisation and the strategic issues around that.

It is also a good thought-provoking read for senior practitioners; anyone, however experienced, will find something to spark ideas.  That's in part because of one of the book's main strengths; Booth's use of examples and experience from her time in the profession as a CPO and senior consultant.  The 'war stories' are very good and interesting; for instance, her tips on successful procurement transformation, based on her experience, are very useful to anyone embarking on such a programme.

I also like her combination of pragmatism and professionalism.  She understands the need for structure, governance and process in procurement; yet she also recognises that 'every organisation is different' and (for instance) that a highly mandated, centralised procurement approach won't work everywhere.  Getting results is what matters.

If I had a criticism it is that I found the structure of the book a little confusing; I didn't always get the feel of a logical flow from chapter to chapter.  That does mean it is easy to dip into and read a chapter or two at a time; which let's face it, is what most of us do anyway! But as a highly readable, useful and thought provoking book, it is undoubtedly to be recommended.”
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So what about this new edition? There is a whole new chapter on the role of procurement in delivering successful mergers and acquisitions as well as three new chapters exploring the how to mitigate supplier-related risks. Case studies have been updated; and there are expanded sections on corporate responsibility, procurement proficiency, good procurement across the organisation, and new ways of supplier collaboration.

The new risk section starts with “Chaos Theory,” in the context of supply continuity, using two events (the 2011 tsunami and the floods in Thailand of the same year) to illustrate her points. She looks at what makes us vulnerable, then suggests some of the actions we can take to protect our organisations. Another chapter on Cyber-crime won’t be of value to every procurement reader; but the one titled “Reputational Risk” certainly is.

Like the book generally, this is all very thoughtful, readable and useful material - although of course there is not the depth you would find in an entire book on risk such as Richard Russill’s “Short Guide to Procurement Risk.” Five pages on reputational risk can only really give an overview when just that element of risk could power an entire book!

The new chapter on Mergers and Acquisitions has some more very good advice, and benefits from Booth’s personal experience in this area (I could not have written this section and thoroughly enjoyed reading it). However, it is a little disappointing in its lack of focus on technology and data. Spend analytics technology is playing a key role now in predicting and identifying M&A savings; whilst contract discovery software is much in demand by lawyers and corporate financiers working on deals. Procurement needs to be aware of the options via leading-edge technology, but it doesn’t feature here.

All in all though, that is a small caveat. We thought the first edition was well worth buying and reading; the second is even better with the additions and updates, and you can buy it here.

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