Is Procurement Doomed? The Big Debate (From a British Pub)

Recently, my colleague Peter Smith and I collectively enjoyed the banter, good company and cheer of one of the Spend Matters UK/Europe Pub Debates. It was even more fun this time around than recent ones – at least for me – because I got a chance to participate, arguing for the motion that procurement is doomed.

The pub debates follow the standard Oxford/Cambridge-style debate format, with 4 participants, albeit with the informality of the pub environment and some modifications based on the need for hydration. (All participants must have a pint or another suitable tipple in hand while making their argument).

For this debate, I had come up with a coherent argument that as of 2015, the digital revolution and other factors will make procurement functions a thing of the past by 2025. Of course, I took some liberties with structuring my arguments, mind you, but the premise that procurement is going to go the way of the chief operating officer inside many companies – that is, away – is important to delve into, and some factors in the debate should scare procurement into action.

I structured my argument in 3 parts.

First, there are many elements conspiring against organized procurement that are driving employees and colleagues away from using procurement and even other organized aspects of the business.

Second, the cat’s out of the bag in terms of the digital world. And procurement is not keeping up.

And third, procurement skill sets are not changing quickly with the times.

I also used the end of my speech to truly take the piss out of Peter Smith, so to speak, sharing a poster of a blown up photo that my trusty agents snapped of him frequenting and contemplating his own type of procurement activities in rather lascivious environs.

In the coming days on Spend Matters, I’ll share the specific elements of each of my 3 arguments. And if you’re lucky, the picture of Peter will pass the Spend Matters censors – the editorial team – and you’ll see that as well. Or if you want to see it before then, don’t hesitate to drop a line.

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First Voice

  1. Susana:

    Dear Jason: I can not be more agree with you, I have been working in procurement area for the last 10 years and after that I start realising that Indirect Procurement is too simple to be done by humans, so I am on my way to build a simple e-procurement solution(start up) just considering the final user and the vendors store-clerk.
    I would be really interested if you have some time to discuss more about my start-up.


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