The Buyer’s Toolkit – Another Impressive Book from Jonathan O’Brien

Jonathan O’Brien continues to amaze in terms of his productivity as an author. As well as being CEO at respected training firm Positive Purchasing, he has produced three very good books, on Category Management (first edition in 2009, now in its third edition), Supplier Relationship Management (2014) and “Negotiation for Purchasing Professionals” (2013).

I think we have reviewed all of them here, very positively in general, and they are all on the downstairs Spend Matters procurement bookshelf (as opposed to the upstairs bookshelf which is for less frequently consulted works). His books are all useful and practical yet also very rigorous in their approach and are right up there amongst the best books available on those topics.

O’Brien has now published his fourth volume, this one titled THE BUYER’S TOOLKIT: An easy-to-use approach for effective buying. It is out this week from Kogan Page.

His aim here is to bring together thinking and content from the previous three books, as well as some additional areas of coverage, into a single book that provides a  “simple, jargon-free framework that can be applied by anyone who buys”.  The “15 steps in the 5D Power Buying™ process will help readers transform how they buy, understand when they should influence a situation and what tools to use to buy well”.

To declare an interest, I got a pre-release electronic copy to have a look at and I’m quoted on the cover – this is what I say there. I don’t get paid for doing this, I should confirm!

Packed with clear explanation, useful tool and vital insight, O’Brien’s book is essential reading for everyone who buys from or deals with suppliers.  That includes both procurement professionals and those working in other roles who hold relevant responsibilities – if they follow the advice here, they can all add value to their organizations through better buying.”

When I spoke to O’Brien before reading the book he said that he was inspired to write it in part after talking to friends who has quite significant buying and budgetary responsibility but weren’t procurement professionals – for instance, IT managers in mid-sized firms where there wasn’t a “real” IT procurement person. Such people often control significant budgets and have important contracts and supplier relationships, so he wanted to produce a single book that would help them.

So I was expecting something relatively simplistic, to be honest, slightly “dumbed down” perhaps. But the book is far from that. While it does provide that end-to-end view of the process, which would help our friend in IT, it is (like his other books) thoughtful and pretty detailed in general. My feeling is that it’s just as applicable to procurement professionals really as it is to part-time buyers; hence my comment on the cover.

I would give it to a new graduate trainee joining my procurement function as the first book they should read to get an excellent overview of what we do. And for more experienced professionals, it will be a very useful source of reference and a reminder perhaps of how we should be operating!

Anyway, it is available here, and we will come back to it shortly and perhaps give you more of a flavour of the contents.

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