Ten Commandments of Procurement – “Apply Appropriate Complexity”

This month, we are looking at the Ten Commandments of Procurement – can we define ten “rules” that always apply and might guide the work of procurement practitioners.

Another comment on a previous post in this series came from "PML" and referred to "Steve Demel CPPO". We haven’t been able to find out much more about the origin of this list, but it is interesting enough to feature here in full.

  1. Be ethical
  2. Follow laws (do not engage in illegal actions)
  3. Be open (transparency)
  4. Be fair and impartial
  5. Buy the right stuff (do not compromise safety, efficiency, or getting the job done right)
  6. Treat vendors/suppliers as professionals, but not as your friend
  7. Be good stewards of money/funds (public or private)
  8. Apply the appropriate level of complexity for the item or service being procured (do not use a sledge hammer to kill a fly)
  9. Have written processes for how procurement works in your organisation
  10. Maintain excellent documentation and archiving standards
  11. Be Creative and innovative
  12. Professionalism is contagious

Now, I’m not sure all of those are all technically “commandments” in the way we were thinking about them – “professionalism is contagious” for instance is a very good thought but maybe not a “commandment.” But there are a couple that we particularly like and could well make it into a final ten.

Maintain excellent documentation” might sound mundane at one level, yet how many procurement functions could say, hand on heart, they achieve it? It also feels like something that it is pretty hard to argue against, and therefore may well qualify as a “commandment.”

We also particularly like “Apply the appropriate level of complexity for the item or service being procured (do not use a sledge hammer to kill a fly).”

Again, that seems hard to disagree with and difficult to think of a counter-argument. It is neat because by saying “the appropriate” level of complexity, it almost has to be true. It is also a very good point. We too often still see and hear of complex, lengthy and onerous procurement processes being used for relatively small contracts; the public sector is often (although not exclusively) a culprit in this regard. Equally, there can be occasions when significant contracts are determined without the right level of rigour.

So do have a think about any commandments you would suggest; we’ve got a couple of weeks left in July to see if we can come up with a few more!

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