Procurement Policy and Kanye West – How Technology Can Change Document and Content Management

If I said we’re going to talk about procurement policy statements and other key documents – maybe standard operating models, process descriptions and the like – you might be tempted to switch off.

But please don’t, because there’s an idea here that I’m sure will be new to many, although I suspect some state-of-the-art practitioners will tell me “sure, we’re doing that already”. This was prompted by an article that popped up on our feed, published on the CBR Government website – although again, don’t disappear if you are in the private sector as the concept seems to be applicable anywhere.

It attracted our attention because of the headline- The Lessons Government Bodies Can Learn From Music Streaming - which played to our other love (aside from procurement) – music. The first paragraph, from author William Makower, MD of Panlogic, didn’t disappoint.

A living, breathing, changing, creative expression”, these were the words of Kanye West in 2015, as he looked to change the landscape of music releases. Freed from the shackles of a permanent, physical format such as CD being the primary medium for his fans, West decided that his album, The Life of Pablo, could grow”.

The author described how West and other artists since have adapted and changed their work after it was first digitally published, rather than seeing the “album” as a fixed piece of work, as it inevitably was it the days when a piece of vinyl was its only physical manifestation. But, as he says “the underlying technology, formatting and mindset to make these changes that truly have universal application. As more and more devices and content are hosted online, the concept of permanency has fluctuated with this ability to alter and update”.

So how can this concept be applied to boring old business documents?  The problem with operating guidance or policy documents, Makower says, is often the storage rather than the content itself (although of course that can be an issue too). Printed documents or PDFs are “immutable, unchanging and not easy to access”.

This is very true – if you want to look for the latest UK government procurement guidance on EU regulations, or CSR or any other hot topic, for instance, it is often hard to find or know whether you re looking at the most up to date or relevant document – even if when you eventually find it, the content is generally good when it is first published, in my experience.

Makower explains this is due to the size of documents in some cases, as well as formatting issues and the inherently changing nature of the content. For instance, organisations such as the emergency services, NHS and government at all levels are constantly looking to improve. “But if guidance can’t be updated outside of major reviews every few years, how can these new practices be relayed to those that need to read it”?

However, technology is offering alternatives – and it looks like Makower’s firm is involved in this, not surprisingly. But his article does not come over as a sales pitch - it all makes perfect sense. Make information available on a “streaming” basis, accessible from mobile devices. Provide the ability to edit and tweak on the fly – presumably with appropriate controls, of course. This can mean new ideas can be captured in both directions so best practice can flow up as well as down the organisation.

You can see how central procurement organisations in government or in large corporates could embrace this concept to make documents of the nature we mentioned earlier more relevant, up to date and inclusive. And we really like the idea of capturing improvements from throughout the “network”, one of the issues that always worked against more centralising models of procurement.

So do read the whole article here and I hope you found this more interesting that you might first have expected!

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