Reflections on Sourcing and Procurement Awards (and a Solicitation for Reader Input)

I spent last week in Europe with Mr. Peter Smith, the fearless leader of Spend Matters UK/Europe. After a dozen meetings, much good conversation, classic London pubs, two great curries, and collectively speaking at the Dutch Sourcing Awards (see coverage under Related Articles), which our colleague Gert van der Heijden hosted, we ended up talking philosophically about the concept of sourcing and procurement awards.

In the US private sector, there really aren’t any procurement and sourcing awards that matter, outside of perhaps the ISM J. Shipman Gold Medal. Simply put: no one pays attention to them (and those outside the ISM inner circle don’t even know what the Shipman award is, even though they should). The situation in the UK is quite different. They’re saturated with procurement awards, what with all the pomp and circumstance award dinners and programs hosted by CIPS (still with a somewhat public sector orientation, or at least rapport) and Procurement Leaders.

It’s important to note that both CIPS (including its media and conference partner, Redactive Media) and Procurement Leaders squarely do awards not just out of duty to the profession, but for profit. This is not inherently a bad thing, mind you!

But in the case of both organizations, there’s quite a hefty fee for attendance, even more for third parties to sponsor the awards dinners and associated activities. In the case of Procurement Leaders, participation in the awards process is a useful component of a member-driven model that gets companies renewing overall PL corporate membership programs each year. A nice virtuous cycle for the organizers, if you will.

Our very positive experience in Holland at the Dutch Sourcing Awards (for which over 170 professionals turned out) got Peter and me thinking: should there be a new type of award model in the sector, either globally or in country (e.g., US or UK) that is truly and principally set up for the betterment of the profession?


But there are so many ways to go about different aspects of it, ranging from truly open source voting and nominations (completely transparent) through to an opaque Nobel Prize like model in which awards are given, without public nominations and based on an insider’s view in the market. Regardless, if we were to be involved in organizing something like this, the awards ceremony would likely to be in the back of an old pub with real ale in London (or Hop Leaf in Chicago) paid for by us or with the help of a sponsor shelling out a few hundred quid rather than many tens of thousands of dollars.

We’d love to hear what our readers think about the concept of creating something like this. Let’s be honest – we’re tempted but by no means certain whether and how we might do it! So input on any of the following or related questions are welcome:

1)   Do awards even matter and should we create a new award or set of awards?

2)   What is the optimal way to pursue it? Do events matter as part of it?

3)   On what scale – global, regional, etc.?

As always (but especially in this case), we’d love reader and member input.

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Voices (4)

  1. b&t:

    Have a Meta-Awards ceremony.

    Best Award Winner: Examine previous winners of procurement awards, and see if their shiny award-winning thing actually works 2,3,4,5..years later.

    Best Award Award. For the awards that best prediuct actual success.

  2. Pete:

    I’d love to see a different type of award.

    Adding to Charles’ point, it isn’t only a natural fear of daylight that keeps some procurement people out of the spot light. The deals they do are often sensitive and they just don’t suit major publicity.

    I’d encourage and support you Peter as long as you include a category for Purchase to Pay

  3. Jason Busch:

    All great questions … and a good final point as well. More from me later on this … thanks for chiming in, Charles.

  4. Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2:

    There are already several procurement awards out there in the US. The questions that you should ask are: Do they indeed “matter” and Spend Matters just isn’t aware of them? Or, if they don’t matter, why not? And can Spend Matters succeed where others have fallen short? And is it worth the effort?

    Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ProcureCon / My Purchasing Center, Corporate United, and ISM are just a few of the entities that offer (or have offered) awards programs. If you are aware of them and feel they don’t matter, then do you feel that their programs fundamentally flawed? Or is it more a matter of the environment not being ripe for awards?

    I tend to agree that procurement awards here in the US are something that a lot of procurement leaders and organizations don’t strive for. The tendency for most is to want to fly under the radar rather than to seek out publicity. Should it be that way? I don’t know, but I think that every procurement leader should be well-versed in marketing its value and I think that procurement awards can help. But I also commonly see lack of marketing savvy as a deficit at the procurement leadership level as a near-epidemic.

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