Procurement Is A Great Job – But NOT Because We Spend Someone Else’s Money!

As well as the interview with Sam Walsh, this month’s Supply Management magazine contains a good article titled “12 Reasons Why You Have The Best Job In The World”.

When we saw that, it was a “great minds…” moment as we’d just started putting together a very similar feature for Spend Matters, and to be honest, the Supply Management list is (not surprisingly) pretty close to what we had in mind. So we’ll put our article on hold for the moment.

However, I’d take issue with one of the reasons. “You are paid to spend other people’s money” it says. Now of course this is true, and actually the sentence underneath is fine – “Graduates have frequently reported that procurement is one of the few professions where they are very quickly given responsibility and much of this is demonstrated by the large amounts of the organisation’s spend they get their hands on soon after starting”.

I agree, and that was a very positive factor for me when I first came into the profession. But what is slightly worrying is the suggestion that procurement people should enjoy spending money! I’ve always felt that the best procurement people probably don’t particularly like spending money – you can’t be miserly, and you must appreciate value rather than price as we all know. But generally an attitude that starts from the premise that we’d rather not spend money if we can avoid it is good for procurement professionals, I would argue.

And the “other people’s money” is faintly worrying. I would hope we would be even more careful with “other people’s money” than we are with our own. We would all expect anyone in the public sector for instance to take that attitude, as they really are spending our (taxpayers’) money!

It reminds me a little of certain senior people in the profession who liked to say what we did was “just like shopping”. That was not a very sensible or even accurate comment, I always thought. When I worked on huge outsourcing or construction contracts, helped to negotiate probably the biggest non-military contract the UK government had ever awarded, or tried to work out appropriate strategies for buying IT across a huge financial services organisation, it didn’t feel much like “shopping”.  Again, I would not necessarily want to appeal to “people who like shopping” as being perfect for procurement.

Anyway, there are other very good reasons for loving procurement, many of which are covered in the Supply Management article. And we might come back still and revisit the idea ourselves at some stage, just to see if we can think of some different reasons.


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