Procurement With Purpose – How You Can Make A Difference

At the SAP Ariba live event last week, I participated in a panel discussion around “Procurement with Purpose”, which is a big theme for the firm this year (and perhaps for longer).

Broadly, that means organisations using their third-party spend to support causes that go beyond the immediate needs and operations of the firm – whether that might be carbon reduction, supporting diversity, encouraging local enterprise or reducing plastic waste.

The topic also came up in a couple of other sessions including a keynote presentation from Jim Ridgwick, CPO at Save the Children, and we’ll be writing more here on those sessions, but it is no coincidence that our new “White Paper” written for SAP Ariba reflects that theme. “Making a Positive Impact on Organisations, Human Rights and Communities” is available to download now, free on registration.  

In it, we look at what “procurement with purpose” means conceptually and for procurement professionals. We attempt to identify the host of different initiatives, issues and ideas that can fall under that heading, and then perhaps most importantly, we look at five key points that organisations (and procurement) should consider if they want to get behind the concept.

Here is a first excerpt from the paper, extracted from the "Introduction" – but we hope you will download the whole thing, find it interesting and useful, and that it might inspire you and your organisation to think about how you can “do good better” via your suppliers and supply chains.


Making a Positive Impact on Organisations, Human Rights and Communities

Procurement with a Purpose as a slogan has a very satisfying ring to it, and behind the words lie very important concepts and activities. The thinking that the phrase represents is that procurement professionals, procurement and supply chain functions and indeed business generally should consider issues around “purpose” and “responsibility” when working with their supply chains and suppliers.

These ideas increasingly resonate with citizens globally and go beyond the traditional scope of the activities that we define as procurement - identifying, contracting with and managing external suppliers to provide the goods and services organisations need to thrive and achieve their goals.

Entire books have been written on the topics that we’ll feature here; we cannot possibly cover every detail, but we hope to provide some useful insight and tangible ideas that will help individuals and organisations understand and adopt the aims and principles of procurement with a purpose.

These ideas are not defining a totally new role, in that they still relate to the role procurement plays in helping the organisation meet its strategic goals: cost management, operational efficiency and effectiveness, revenue generation and so on - the whole range of procurement value contributions.

But it recognises that the traditional procurement goals of meeting basic supply needs at the lowest possible cost should no longer be the only or even the principal aims for organisations, procurement functions and professionals. Beyond this, procurement can elevate the function and deliver more business value by aligning with and driving an organisation’s higher purpose, as we will see.


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First Voice

  1. Stephen Porteous:

    Timely and interesting paper.

    Timely and interesting paper. Ultimately imo to maximise the ‘common good’ value of supply chains will require improved use of meta data, purchaser analytical tools (supported by AI??), education within the work force and crucially vocal consumers. We all have a role to play here.

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