Procurement Transformation – beware the snake oil salesmen

We had a couple of articles (here and here) from Dr Ian George recently, with more on the way soon, around the topic of procurement transformation.  Ian looked at the topic in real depth as the core part of the studies for his Doctorate, which means he speaks from a position of some authority. But he is not ‘just’ an academic – as a procurement practitioner and consultant he has the real world experience as well, which builds on a theoretical understanding of the topic.

That is a depth of knowledge way ahead of most of us, me included, who write, comment and speak on the topic. And that includes pretty much every consulting firm, who will tell you they are experts in ‘procurement transformation’. So before you consider engaging anyone to assist  is always worth exploring just what they mean by that.

Does it mean in reality that they introduced a limited category management process in a client three years ago?  Or they’ve implemented an eProcurement system or two, a platform that is used for around 20% of their client organisation’s spend, and which users hate with a vengeance? Very transformational, I'm sure...

Or have they carried out serious research, codified their findings, and taken at least a dozen clients through the whole transformation journey, from start to finish, over several years?

You may have detected  a note of cynicism there, based on serious overuse of that transformation word in procurement and probably other business disciplines too.  Indeed, we’d suggest you take claims of expertise in this field which a huge sack of salt, which is why we were very pleased when Ian agreed to write for us, as he speaks with a rare authority in the field.  In terms of his consulting work, he and Nick Bacon (another experienced procurement practitioner and consultant) have formed Agile Partners to work with clients in this area, and there will be more here shortly about what they’re doing.

In the meantime, they have just set up a LinkedIn Group called Procurement Transformation which we’re happy to support.  I use LinkedIn as a tool to keep in touch with people, but I haven’t really got into the whole ‘groups’ thing. It can be time-consuming to actually get involved in a meaningful way, I’ve found (compared to the rapidity of Twitter interaction), and many procurement groups seem to get infested by suppliers very quickly.

But we’re going to see if there is value in this group, and if we can get some good debate and interaction going around the topic of procurement transformation. Obviously these are early days, but you can be an early adopter here if you are interested!

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