The Ten Commandments of Procurement – What Are Yours?

We've been running our Hot Topics now for a few months and our perception is they've proved a worthwhile way of focusing attention on a particular issue and highlighting some guest articles from real experts. We're going to come back and start a new series in September, and we'll try and plan further ahead so you can think about where you might want to contribute.

But for the summer, we thought we might do something a bit different. So for July, let's look at the Ten Commandments of Procurement. This is a game I play on my own sometimes (yes, I know, it is sad, isn't it)! The aim is to try and come up with statements of a procurement and supply chain nature that are absolutely, unarguably true, under all circumstances and conditions.

Now we can argue that the original Ten Commandments don't actually in the main pass that test. Thou Shalt Not Kill is generally a great rule by which to live your life; but faced with a homicidal maniac about to kill my children, and with a gun in my hand, I know what I would do. But for our procurement purposes, we will try and stay with that rule of universal application, because it does make it more challenging!

In fact, it is really tough. You should always research the market before you buy? Well, not necessarily, for a low-value commodity purchase it may be perfectly adequate to just run a quick open auction or similar. Develop good supplier relationships? I can think of times when this is just not possible or even desirable. But across the whole field of procurement and supply chain management, there should be a few absolutely clear "rules," mustn't there?

As well as being an interesting intellectual exercise, if we can do this, it might also prove a useful tool for defining what it is we do in procurement, and perhaps something that we could usefully communicate to stakeholders.

So that is your challenge. What are the Commandments that you would propose? I have a few, which we will feature over the next couple of weeks, but to be honest I have not actually got up to ten yet. So send me your idea (or ideas) and we will have a prize for the best submission we get by the end of July.

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Voices (11)

  1. Mark:

    Here are some you should use all the time.

    Buy no more than necessary
    Spend no more than necessary
    Satisfy beneficiaries needs
    Make sure you receive, at least, what you bought
    Communicate to achieve a common understanding
    Make it easy for suppliers to offer their best
    Use a checklist
    Be perpetually curious
    Assess reward at the same time as risk
    Be reasonable

  2. Anya@MarketDojo:

    We came up with a few commandments and asked some of our friends from other companies what rules they live their procurement lives by. Here is what we came up with:

    1. ‘Thou shalt not put small companies out of business’ Ray Phillips, Magna.

    2. ‘Thou shalt not discuss price increases’ Mark Conlon, Magna.

    3. ‘Thou shall be open to new ways of working’ Alun Rafique, Market Dojo.

    4. ‘Ambiguity must be left out of every tender’ Anya McKenna, Market Dojo.

    5. ‘Involve Stakeholders from the beginning’ Anya McKenna, Market Dojo.

    6. ‘Cheaper is not always better’ Alex Mahe, Market Dojo.

    7. ‘Buy French’ Alex Mahe, Market Dojo. (Our French intern!)

    This game really makes you think!

  3. Dan:

    Having attended a CIPS branch event the other week, I suspect another commandment is “thou shalt not turn down free food”

    1. Anya:

      I fully support and embrace this commandment.

  4. Clearview Group:

    Honor your category contract because post contract management of the category is crucial. One cannot walk away once the contract has been awarded. The category, spend, supplier performance, risk, market intelligence, and benefits need to be continuously managed and tracked.

  5. PML:

    1. Be ethical
    2. Follow laws (do not engage in illegal actions)
    3. Be open (transparency)
    4. Be fair and impartial
    5. Buy the right stuff (do not compromise safety, efficiency, or getting the job done right)
    6. Treat vendors/suppliers as professionals, but not as your friend
    7. Be good stewards of money/funds (public or private)
    8. Apply the appropriate level of complexity for the item or service being procured (do not use a sledge hammer to kill a fly)
    9. Have written processes for how procurement works in your organization
    10. Maintain excellent documentation and archiving standards
    11. Be Creative and Innovative
    12. Professionalism is contagious
    By Steve Demel CPPO

  6. B & t:

    Dont be damned for telling lies
    Instead massage the KPIs

    Honor thy suppliers, that is all
    From whom hospitality may befall

  7. bitter and twisted:

    Have but One Boss – thy head be sore
    from reporting to two or even more

    From unethical acts thy hand be held
    (Unless by necessity compelled)

    Dont harras the office wenches
    Sneak a hooker on expenses

    apologies to messrs Bierce and Clough

  8. Clearview Group:

    Managing contract gaps in a company’s supply base will help them to minimize legal and commercial risks.

  9. Dan:

    Think in terms of value, not cost

  10. Elaine Porteous:

    Here’s my offering: Supplier Relationship Management is not optional

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