Losing The Procurement Pub Debate Battle, Winning the War and Taking the Piss Out of Peter Smith

It’s not easy losing a debate in London. But when you’re tasked with arguing for a motion that would essentially put everyone in a room out of a job, it’s quite difficult to win over the crowd. Having said that, Stephen Allot, Crown Representative for SMEs at the Cabinet Office, and I nearly won the vote in arguing for the motion that procurement is doomed.

See my arguments in favor of this motion that procurement is doomed here, here, here and here. We lost by a single vote in the room when the dust was clear. Not bad, I must say, given the controversy of the topic. But it’s hard to disagree with lines like, “Come on, most procurement and finance organizations can’t even agree on a baseline definition of savings!” in examining the logic behind why procurement is not currently in a good place.

My colleague Peter Smith and Garry Mansell, managing director of Trade Extensions, argued against the motion, and I should add actually supported in much of their arguments everything that Stephen and I had to say – aside from the fact procurement would succeed in morphing to take on a broad range of new responsibilities to survive.

Alas, Stephen and I may have lost the battle, but I sincerely believe we won the war in arguing that procurement, in its current state, cannot survive past 2025. That is, most procurement.

Of course some aspects of procurement won’t go away. As I noted at the summation of my argument for the motion, individuals will always have, well, their own proclivities and buying interests. Personal procurement will be alive and well. And there will always be room for blogs like Spend Matters. After all, my colleague Peter needs a place to spend some of his hard earned cash.

Below is a photo that our agents snapped of Peter in Amsterdam – Spend Matters NL colleague Gert van der Heijden is in the background if you look really closely, as is the Dutch office – on a personal procurement exercise. We had no intent of biasing the audience as they listened intently to Peter’s closing remarks after mine, but the photo did sit nicely under the old clock in the Bank of England Pub for the drinks and good cheer after the debate was over. (Peter and our old friend Alex Kleiner are in the bottom photo.)



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