Brexit Webinar with Jaggaer and 4C Associates – What Should Procurement Be Doing?

Talk about timing.

We put the date in the diary for our webinar on Brexit and procurement with software firm Jaggaer back in August, I think it was. So, we obviously had no idea that last Thursday would be the day when the tentative agreement between the UK and the EU would be published, leading to a tempestuous day of ministerial resignations, heated debate in parliament and in the media, and a general air of chaos, panic and uncertainty across the country.

It is hard to know what to write now, knowing that by the time you read it, everything might have changed again. Jeremy Smith of consulting firm 4C Associates, who spoke very intelligently during the webinar about the issues that procurement is facing in terms of Brexit, had to add a fourth option to his slide last week when a second referendum went from being a highly unlikely outcome to something that (in my view anyway) is as likely as any other option.

The most depressing aspect of the situation we are in now is that the divisions in the country are not going to go away, whatever happens next. If we take the soft Brexit being proposed, hardcore “Brexiteers” will be very unhappy with the continuing power of the EU, while Remainers will be unhappy we have left. If we stagger on to another referendum, then we have months more of fighting. And if we reject the deal on the table, then goodness knows where we are.

The whole situation is also highlighting splits in both major political parties. No-one can really believe that Labour could somehow negotiate a “better exit deal” if they were in power, and most of their MPs want to stay anyway. But the idea from some Tory Ministers that the Prime Minister should go back and re-negotiate now is also crazy. Why on earth should the EU say anything other than “get lost”? I suspect their leaders really don’t care much what happens to the UK, they’re probably just glad to get rid of us now after the last two years of hassle.

Anyway, back to our webinar. We stressed that procurement executives should be looking to take actions that will improve matters whatever the eventual result in terms of Brexit. That means as a starting point making sure the basics of effective procurement management are in place – data, visibility and so on, and also having robust risk management processes in place. That enables you to look at scenario planning in terms of Brexit – ask the “what happens if…” questions, and consider issues such as currency, sourcing strategies if tariffs become an issue, workforce planning etc. in the light of that risk-based approach.

There was more good advice (we believe) in the webinar, and thanks to everyone who tuned in last week and particularly those of you who contributed some good questions on the day. We’ll no doubt be writing further about Brexit here as matters become clearer (he said, somewhat optimistically), but in the meantime you can still take a listen to the webinar here if you missed it at the time.


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