Procurement (and other) highlights of 2010

Procurement & business highlights

As we celebrate the end of one year and the start of another, it is pretty much compulsory for any writer to compile a list of highlights of the year.  So who are we to fight tradition?  Here's five of our procurement highlights, with links to previous relevant posts on Spend Matters, and to some highlights on the Spend Matters US site; then a few more personal thoughts.  I've stayed away from the pure technology stuff; I'm sure Jason will give us some views on that side of things!

1. Risk in the supply chain has to be top of our list.  Whether it was volcanoes with unpronounceable names, oil spill issues for BP, Rolls Royce engines or just a bit of snow, it seemed that unexpected issues were popping up for all sorts of organisations.   This isn't going away; and it's no secret to say that this will be a huge Spend Matters topic for 2011.

2. With deficits and debt high on Governments'  agendas, public sector procurement became a bigger issue than ever.  It would seem obvious that spending government money with suppliers as effectively as possible would be a top objective.  And certainly in the UK, the new coalition government has approached the task (in central government at least) with some vigour. But major issues remain in areas such as local authorities, defence and health procurement.  We will continue giving our insight into this area in 2011, and add to our coverage of public procurement in other major European countries.

3. Linked to this, but extending beyond purely public sector, the drive for transparency became a big issue - in government spending, and in major organisations' supply chains from a sustainability and corporate social responsibility sense.  Even suppliers to Government like Serco and Mitie saw the way they treated their own suppliers exposed to public scrutiny.  Spikes Cavell with their 'Spotlight on Spend' service did as much as anyone to inform the taxpayer as to where the money is going; but we still wonder whether we need to know more if we're really going to be able to assess whether Government spends our money wisely.

4. The globalisation of markets gave us an unusual economic mix where many buyers were faced with some suppliers facing bankruptcy, while others were pushing through inflationary price increases based on global commodity inflation and booming sales in developing countries.  It was fascinating to talk to Colin Maund and realise just how global a company Achilles has become, and hear his view that South America may be the most exciting part of the world from a business perspective right now.

5.  With the continuing growth of social media and related web-based developments, we started to get useful business information from Twitter, LinkedIn and similar resources  (I found out more about train running during the bad weather from Twitter than from rail websites).  Where will this go in terms of its impact on risk management or supplier intelligence?  And market players took divergent approaches, not all of them based on open access; the Times and others disappeared behind a paywall; Supply Management restricted their readers' access to 'competitive' news and views.  Yet overall there is more free, useful information and analysis available than we would have dreamed of ten years ago.

Personal highlights

BUSINESS / SOCIAL EVENT : the Spend Matters UK / Europe launch party.  Not only the start of our new venture, but a genuinely fun evening with a really great bunch of people.  I was worried no-one would turn up, in the end the only problem was having to go home and leave a few hardy souls still enjoying themselves...

SPORT - Sunderland beating Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge (after I'd seen them lose 7-2 there in February); and Graeme McDowell winning the US Open and the Ryder Cup.

MUSIC - Laura Marling confirming her genius status at the age of 20, and actually looking like she enjoys being on stage.  Mumford and Sons sending the crowd wild at Reading Festival; every song sung passionately by 20,000 teenagers, who a year earlier would have been horrified at the prospect of going to a 'bluegrass / folk' gig!

POPULAR CULTURE - the interview stage of the Apprentice TV programme.

Claude (the Apprentice rottweiler interviewer, genuinely losing his cool with irritating, overly confident Stuart, he of the self-defined 'Baggs the Brand' ): "Don't tell me what a brand is, OK?  You're not a brand"!!

Delicious pause for effect.

Stuart Baggs (21 year old 'entrepreneur'): I think I might be.

It could have been scripted by Bennett or Aykbourn.

WEBSITE - for continually making me laugh, however I feel, the inimitable The Onion. The consistently funniest website in the world.  Sometimes just the headline does it for me - like this one "Snowy conditions proving hazardous for nation's idiots"

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