Procurement can’t afford to be seen as the enemy by budget holders

I know we get a little blasé about procurement being criticised by suppliers. They would, wouldn’t they – we’re the people who are trying to reduce their profit margins. And the suppliers’ focus on “building relationships” can look, in our darker and more cynical moods, like something perilously close to bribery, and little to do with actually giving a great service.

And yet.. it does worry me how many articles I’ve read recently, and discussions I’ve had with both supply side and users of procurement, that suggest our unpopularity is becoming a bigger issue for the profession.

The Loadstar website is a good example, with this piece which has a pretty descriptive title – “Procurement departments are harming the business, say logistics providers”

And that is indeed what they say..

“Procurement departments are great at paperclips and not so great at evaluating service – they give freight on a differential, and if that differential happens to be just 50 cents, it’s still a differential”.

Now of course it doesn’t matter that one anonymous freight-forwarder makes that sweeping statement. But I’m finding more and more comments around procurement being purely driven by price, not being aligned with the business and so on.  That can’t be good for the perception of our profession / industry.

OK, we might be getting that Board agreement to get involved with new categories and “sort them out” – but how long will that support last if the budget holders don’t value our contribution?  And it all seems to be forcing us into that unit price cul-de-sac that we’ve touched on before.

I’d also like to think that the Loadstar accusation is unfair  – in most cases at least. One would hope that procurement people are taking service into account, and other non price factors where they are genuinely important. I’d hope procurement people are interested in supplier relationships, where they add real, demonstrable value, and work positively with our colleagues in other areas.

We do, don’t we...?!!

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