The ‘PR cycle’ of procurement …. what is news and what isn’t?

This post was provoked by a piece just before Xmas  in another publication about a firm claiming benefits for their 'group procurement strategy'.  This is a firm that to my knowledge has been through the cycle described here at least 3 times in the last 10 years or so, with no consistency in their approach to procurement.

So, here is our perception of the standard PR cycle; for maximum effect, each step should be announced in the annual report or though some other form of public statement...

Step 1:

Organisation announces that they have realised how jolly important procurement is, and how they will be taking a stronger and more corporate approach to it.  This will, they predict, add a 'significant' amount to their profit / earnings / CSR profile / innovative growth / meeting citizens' needs next year / quarter.

Step 2:

Organisation announces significant benefits delivered by taking a stronger / more centralised / group approach to procurement.  Savings may be mentioned; or supplier numbers have reduced from x to 0.5x; an award from  CIPS / ISM / Procurement Leaders / some sustainability body has been gained.  The CPO is quoted, or even photographed, beaming or looking tough and competent, depending on personal style.

Step 3:

Organisation announces that, following a review, major savings are being made through the shrinking of central functions, and power in areas such as procurement is being passed back to the business units.  The CEO says local managers "are closer to their customers and can better make their own procurement / HR / IT decisions".  The CPO is not quoted.  But he / she is suddenly very active on LinkedIn...

Step 4:

Repeat step 1....etc.

And so the world goes round.

I remember asking the CPO of one of the most respected global firms in procurement terms how far through their procurement "journey" he thought they'd got in terms of ultimate potential.  This was at a point after they'd been working very hard and seriously for about 5 years.  "About 30%", was his answer.

Long term focus, investment (in tools, technology and people), and management commitment are key to becoming genuinely world-class; it doesn't happen in a quarterly reporting cycle.  And that's why we rarely feature here organisations announcing some sudden astonishing savings figure - unless it comes with real evidence of how it has been achieved and a rigorous savings methodology.  Otherwise, it's too often just a quick (and generally un-verifiable) soundbite for the annual report.

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First Voice

  1. Christine Morton:

    Have you thought of scriptwriting for a new series of Yes Minister? 😉

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