ProcureCon Europe Day One – CIPS and WBR Team Up For Procurement Events

ProcureCon Europe kicked off in Berlin yesterday with a strong mix of leading CPOs and other senior practitioners with a sprinkling of sponsors, academics – and two of us from Spend Matters.

We weren’t allowed to report on one presentation, rather oddly, but by all accounts, there wasn’t any amazing competitive advantage tips or latest business secrets exposed by that firm. Anyway, there was plenty of other content to cover, and we will have more detailed articles on several the sessions over the next couple of weeks.

Outside of the core sessions, there was interesting news from WBR, the ProcureCon parent company, and CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply).  The two organisations announced a partnership; WBR will lead the development of the CIPS Awards events for continental Europe and Singapore. That is in addition to the successful awards events already established in the UK and Middle East, and run by Haymarket for CIPS. The CIPS connection was clear with David Noble, the CEO, opening the event yesterday and several other senior CIPS folk in evidence.

As well as the awards, there will also be closer collaboration across the range of ProcureCon conferences; CIPS have been admirers of their events we understand for some time and whilst the feeling is that Haymarket did a good job with their first CIPS Conference in the UK recently, CIPS is obviously looking to widen its field of partners in this market. Haymarket is also very much a UK-focused business.

Talking to a few informed folks yesterday, our conclusion on the objective behind this move is summed up in two words; Procurement Leaders. That organisation has developed a very powerful market position with the largest corporates in terms of events as well as research and other networking-type services.

CIPS has made real progress with major corporates itself with certification and education programmes, and ProcureCon has its own “fan base” too. But together, CIPS/WBR will hope to leverage each other’s contacts, skills and credibility in the events field and perhaps beyond in geographic areas outside CIPS' current core market. It is an interesting move, and we will keep an eye on developments here.

Back to the sessions, and there were a couple of strong themes. One is around the way that procurement is becoming much more an integrated part of the business rather than a standalone function. That approach also tends to lead to a situation where we see more and more CPOs who don’t have a deep procurement background – speakers yesterday from organisations such as Amazon and Solvay fall into that category and there was much talk of the advantages of bringing people into procurement from other business functions. Where does that leave the idea of the CIPS “licence to practice”? There’s another question we might want to come back to!

Then we had a very interesting contrast between some of the presentations that focused on driving a more structured and measurable approach to what we might call traditional procurement – with bottom line savings the main goal. Then we had people like JJ Van der Meer of PA Consulting who was much more focused on innovation and how procurement can contribute to the top line.  In one of the stand-out session of the day, Tom Geurts, CPO at NV Bekaert, described an approach that we felt took a balanced line between those two options – understanding the need for both cost reduction and the development of relationships with suppliers that can drive innovation and closer collaboration.

We caught up with Positive Purchasing, Capital Procurement Solutions, riskmethods and other sponsors; Future Purchasing also published the first information from the recent category management study we have been featuring here, so more on that too to come. And it is always good to see old friends and meet some new people. Was that over a few glasses of Pilsner? Well, maybe …

 

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