Market Informed Sourcing and what it says about procurement as a “profession”

We wrote earlier this week about Market Informed Sourcing (MIS), the confusion over terminology, and commented that growth in its usage isn’t as rapid as it perhaps should be, given the undoubted power of the technique.

There are a number of reasons. Some major consultancy firms are using it pretty extensively  with clients, but my perception is they’re keeping fairly quiet about it for reasons of competitive advantage. Other consultants are I think just ignoring it – if you’ve successfully and profitably sold traditional category management assignments for years, why go through all the hassle of learning and selling a whole new range of skills?

And in terms of practitioners – well, some people are open to, and interested in, change and “new” stuff generally. Some people aren’t, through inertia, fear, lack of time or sheer laziness. (That doesn’t apply to any of our readers because, by definition, if you’re interested enough in our profession to read Spend Matters you are neither lazy nor fearful of change!)

This is also where I struggle a little with the concept that procurement is a “profession”.  I’m not sure it is even a worthwhile objective to be honest, but let’s ignore that issue for the moment and consider the current procurement situation compared to other established professions.

Medics have to keep up with latest thinking

Imagine that the medical profession came up with a new technique, process, or tool that saved lives or just generally improved their performance in a measurable way.  That innovation would be properly tested, written up in professional journals, critiqued and discussed in the profession, then included in training for aspiring doctors. Qualified medics would need to keep up with such developments, and soon would be expected to use the innovation where appropriate. They might even be disciplined if they ignored it or refused to use it.

Now think about procurement. We don’t have any of those processes in place. New ideas and concepts are rarely tested or even discussed in a scientific manner, and links between practitioners and academics, which might help such review, are pretty weak (certainly in the UK).

CIPS cut its funding for academics some years ago and neither produces, publishes or even comments on much in the way of new thinking. There isn’t a well-read academic journal for the profession. The syllabus for the MCIPS, probably still the strongest global qualification in the profession,  changes, but very slowly (and I’m slightly ashamed to say I still don’t fully understand that process).

But, I hear you say – we have Spend Matters to tell us about MIS and other interesting developments!

Well, if we were to be considered the best forum for the promulgation and discussion of new procurement ideas and thinking, then we’d be very flattered. But if that were true, it really would, I think, prove our point about the weakness of our arguments to be a “profession”.  We have a very long way to go if we’re serious about that as an aim.

And back to MIS – here again are our two research papers on the topic.

Sourcing Optimisation – Extracting Value from Complexity

Market-Informed Sourcing: A game-changer for Procurement

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Voices (3)

  1. bitter and twisted:

    what parts of business do run double blind tests though?

    the problem is the dirgey drudgery of compliance, contracts, and KPIs, etc. and the flabby corpse of predigested thinking suffocating curiosity and experimentation.

    all compliance and no maverick spend makes jack a dull boy
    all compliance and no maverick spend makes jack a dull boy
    all compliance and no maverick spend makes jack a dull boy


    Profession, n.
    – a conspiracy to defraud the public.

  2. RJ:

    What is a profession anyway? I appreciate the robustness of the medical profession but I think that those “professionals” working in other areas with similar Chartered Institutes such as marketing, personnel and development, accountancy and banking (!!!) would struggle to meet the criteria you set out.

    And you don’t even mention “the oldest profession”…. I’d like to know how you’d propose to test that scientifically!

  3. Clark Kent:

    Not sure the medical analogy works entirely. Adoption can be limited due to pharmacutical costs – same issue as consultancy protecting competitive advantage.

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