Game, Set and Match for the Bribery Act – and procurement as umpire?

Here is Daniel Ball of Wax Digital, explaining how the Bribery Act might change the procurement process for many organisations. Wax Digital are a leading UK based procurement technology provider - read more about them here.

We’d all have loved to see Andy Murray achieve a home win but I am not sure many of us would pay £10,000 for a seat at Sunday’s Wimbledon Men’s Final. But what would happen if one of your directors decided that a key deal could be secured by offering the prospect some hot centre court tickets? Whilst we believe most buyer communities have always been above such things, The Bribery Act, becoming law now, brings tougher consequences and will elevate procurement’s role in ensuring this is the proven case.

Procurement teams will need to be aware of the consequences of the Act and what it means for the way they conduct business, both at home and abroad. Real assertion of control by procurement, driven by evidence, process and attitude will be at the core of ensuring deals abide by rules which if ignored could now result in the freezing of profits, unlimited fines or up to 10 years imprisonment.

Private sector organisations have had relative freedom to choose the level of procedure in place to prevent bribery and corruption. Whilst it’s safe to say that the large majority uphold the law, history has shown, as with cases of high profile corporate fraud, that the actions of one can cause damage for whole organisations.

Companies will now have to consider the kind of purchasing process rigours seen in the public sector as a matter of course. This could include evaluating how fairly they deal with their supply base, and policing the frequency of supplier reviews. Being able to prove that contracts are sourced on a fair, level and audited playing field will be essential.

Purchase to Pay (P2P) technology will help companies to adopt a zero tolerance approach, not just to corruption itself but to the auditing of buying processes so that an organisation’s ethics can be easily upheld if contested. These tools will administer, manage and document sourcing and procurement policy and process right from one end of the chain to the other. Alongside technology led governance, encouraging compliance behaviour is critical too. Procurement teams should be involved in engaging with buyers at all levels, especially when purchasing is decentralised, to educate them on the need for transparency through the sourcing process and then compliance across organisational buying.

Despite the increased pressure and risk the Bribery Act brings to procurement and sourcing, we view it as an opportunity for purchasing professionals to elevate their role. Buying organisations that can demonstrate greater transparency in supplier relationships will reap the rewards of playing an increasingly important part in their organisation’s lawfulness and reputation as one that it’s good to do business with.

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