Monday Rant – Please Make Your Procurement Content Worthwhile


The democratization of the media is the topic today – but it’s more interesting than it sounds!

One of the most significant aspects of the Internet is the way it has allowed everyone to be their own publisher. Whether your thing is a nice cover version of an Ed Sheeran song, put up on YouTube or SoundCloud,  an article about your exiting hobby on a WordPress blog site, or some bikini pics on Instagram , you can get your “content” out there.

That has many benefits, but one negative is that it gives the consumer of content almost unlimited choice as to the material they can access. So we have to make judgements on what is actually worthwhile, and that is true in terms of both business and personal. On the business side, in our world, it means a plethora of articles, papers, surveys, and so on about procurement topics that we could spend time reading. The problem is, many of them are worthless or even have negative value – they are positively dangerous.

The worthless tend to be written by someone who knows nothing about procurement, but are often featured on a solution provider (of some type) website. The author may be a jobbing “business writer” paid £50 to put together an article on “supplier relationship management” or “maverick spending”. They take a couple of quotes or ideas from other sources, perhaps Spend Matters, and write a few hundred words around it without saying anything new, interesting or based on real experience or analysis.

It’s bad enough when these are published as blogs that are free to access. But in one recent case, the material that annoyed us was behind a registration firewall that needed about 12 pieces of information from me to get to see it. It was sponsored by a well-known solution provider and published by a well-known media name in our procurement world – I won’t mention either for the moment at least.

And it was really poor – apart from being an obvious advert for the solution provider, it made no real sense, introducing what seemed to be the core topic then apparently failing to link that to the “sell” it is trying to make. One assumes it was written by a journalist and it reads as an article rather than a “paper” for download. But in all honesty, we would have rejected it as a guest article on Spend Matters.

Now you might think this is special pleading from someone who sees our business threatened by multiple, lower cost competitors. It really isn’t – it just annoys me, and actually it might even help us if we are seen as the guardians of worthwhile content and curation in a sea of rubbish. On the other hand, it might make procurement professionals just give up reading content altogether if they start to find that a large proportion is a wasting their time.

It’s given me an idea though – when eventually I’ve retired from Spend Matters, I might start another website and just critique everyone else’s material. Much easier than all this business of thinking up new topics, ideas and  analysis that might actually help the profession.

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Voices (4)

  1. RJ:

    Bit of a plug for your former co-writer, Peter, in that Source Global Research (headed by Fiona Czerniawska) publishes an annual review ranking the quality, presentation and content of the “Thought Leadership” materials of the major consultancy houses. There is a lot of drivel out there, whether uninformed, blatantly wrong or simply dull, and their reviews, based on a huge database of material, give some helpful guidance both on how to sort the wheat from the chaff and also how to write more effectively for publication.

    PS I’m not an employee of Source, just a subscriber to some of their services!

  2. Dan2:

    I rate this blog post 3.5 out of 5.

  3. Jason Busch:

    A good piece, Peter. I read it not so much as just criticizing the junk, but also for the idea of helping target the ideas on what people should be thinking about (see below). Reminds me of the Daily Skimm … 🙂 Or the original “Spectator” …

    But the bigger question: so is less, more, generally? Aside from all the rubbish (noise), maybe we go back to our original job as curators rather than primarily acting as contributors (I feel I used to curate more than today). We’ve actually found on MetalMiner if we cut back our content, we actually increase our traffic and the quality of traffic (of course dependent on what is published!)

  4. Alan Haynes:

    There seems to me to be far too much content about procurement that is being ‘sponsored’ by solution providers and consultants. I also see many alleged procurement thought leaders getting their names associated with the articles. It used to be during my formal time in procurement, an absolute no no to recommend or become associated with a particular product or service – the perception of bias and/ or favouritism was too great a price to pay. I agree with the thrust of this article – the sheer quantity of articles is diminishing the quality of the articles.

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