Guy Strafford wants a new word for procurement. Can you help?

There’s an excellent article from Guy Strafford of Proxima, procurement outsourcing providers, on their website.  In it, he asks if the word “procurement “ is toxic, as well as being confusing.

'I am not the first to observe that ‘procurement’ has a branding and reputational problem.  The word means different things to different people.  I can think of several instances where, if I compare the service provided by ‘procurement’ in two separate businesses, you could be excused for thinking they are operating in totally different areas of business management’.

He goes on to talk about the way many procurement functions are overly focused on year on year savings, a problem close to my heart. We have to change this and get better aligned with the business.

Concepts such as competitive advantage, control, operational performance, shareholder value, risk, innovation and ROI should be the center of the conversations.  Not seven step strategic sourcing processes, or savings.  No one spends money to save money’.

It’s very good stuff, and Strafford finishes with a fascinating challenge. Perhaps “procurement” has to go on a journey in the same way that “Personnel” ended up as “HR”, he says. So he is offering a bottle of decent Champagne (vintage Bollinger, so that would be one of the cheaper bottles in his cellar) for 'a new name or brand for "procurement"'.

I have already put in my entry – this is something I’ve been mulling over privately for a while, so I was quick off the mark! But I’m really interested to see what people come up with.  So read the whole article here, get your thinking caps on, and let’s see if we can come up with a brilliant idea that will help re-position and invigorate the entire profession for the 21st century.

OK , that’s maybe a little optimistic, but you never know, let’s aim high...

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Voices (21)

  1. jonathan:

    Supplier Strategy Department

    Acquisitions and Vendor Management

    Supplier Assessment Department

    Supplier Development and Purchasing

    Strategic Supply Chain Management

    Supplier Leadership and Development

  2. Paul Hewerdine:

    We should steal Commercial from sales. Or External Operations perhaps.

  3. Toni:

    Endorsers or undertakers have something about them for me…

    1. Dan:

      Undertakers might be a little confusing….

  4. john mcdowell:

    There is as much internal management as there is external (sadly) so not sure ‘external resources’ covers it. It is also about more than managing resources external or otherwise; todays procurement function should, if applied in the right way, be able to lead and influence on strategy, programmes, change, innovation, outsourcing etc and be able to sell ideas/strategic approach to the business from c band down

  5. The Guitar Man:

    I rather tackle the reputational issue (if there really is one) rather than just changing the name.

    We’ve been Buyers, Expeditors, Purchasers, Procurers, Supply Chain Managers, Commercial Specialists, Jobsworths, The Men (and Women) from Del Monte, Wastrels and, of course, B*******!! What about ‘Buyers And Lawful Letting Specialists – that might make a snappy acronym.

    Still if it worked for Snickers, Starburst, Veet, Milton Keynes Dons, Nissan, Accenture, and Elton John – who am I to argue.


  6. Dan:

    Personally, I quite liked the sound of ‘Enemies of Enterprise’

  7. John Vasili:

    How about “obtainment”

    (Copyrighted by Johnvasili)

  8. Dave Orr:

    How about following Orange and T-Mobile who, after many storms of the brain and away days and sky blue thinking came up with EE (Everything Everywhere)?

    I suggest “BS”….standing for “Buying Stuff” of course – what did you think it was?

    Or ask former Somerset County Council CEO Alan Jones of Future Communities to come up with something?

    He coined the World Class phrase “Beyond Excellence”. Is that “BE” now?

    Contact Alan Jones here (plenty of spare time on his hands now):

    Or maybe ask IBM who came up with the earth shattering name of Southwest One but unfortunately spelt their name wrong at Companies House as South West One!

  9. John Vasili:

    How about “obtainment”

  10. David Atkinson:

    I’ve put my entry in: ERM (External Resource(s) Management).

    Immediately more ‘strategic’ sounding.

    Might write a blog about it. Either that, or a blog about the experience of winning a bottle of bubbly.

    1. Final Furlong:

      I think you should write a blog on the whole preposterous notion of having to rename ourselves when the real issue about procurement – as a professional service – not owning a more compelling proposition beyond price/cost. ‘Personnel’ became ‘HR’ which became ‘Talent Management’. But, let’s face it, ‘HR’ is closer to ‘Human Remains’, in terms of their performance and approach, as it still takes an eon when recruiting anyone. But, hey, they have an iron-clad organisation-wide policy to enforce it. Ditto, IT. I like the idea of ERM but procurement needs to be better defined or redefined, not renamed.

  11. Aaron Morgan:

    How about Spend Realisation (SR) for short, sticking with the HR theme

  12. Herbert Kornfeld jnr:

    Supplier is tha’ Ho, internal customer be tha’ John, which make us tha’ mothaf***in’ PIMP


    1. Peter Smith:


      Back from the dead, man! Yo, peace and big respec’ from your bro in Purchasin’.

      For those of you wondering what on earth all this is, satirical / plain silly website The Onion is one of life’s true delights, and Herbert Kornfeld was one of their classic creations. Try this. Accounts Receivables was never so much fun.,16285/


  13. Christine Lithgow Smith:

    I agree wholeheartedly. Procurement really doesn’t describe the profession today and can set the expectations of the business against us. For me, it is a creative process that really helps to shape solutions to help drive the organisation forward so how about Solutions Development or Creative Solutions.

  14. bitter and twisted:

    Arent ‘HR’ hated more than ‘Personnel’ ever were?

    What good does a label do?

    1. Dan:

      Because its all about ‘marketing the brand’ within the organisation

  15. Dan:

    How about ‘External Resources’?

    1. PlanBee:

      No make or buy decisions for you then!

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