The Twelve Procurement Days of Christmas – Spend Matters Top Papers

In the run up to Christmas and my passing over the Spend Matters UK/Europe reins, we’ve been featuring some of the briefing papers I’ve written over the last eight years. We’ll leave those published in 2018 – we will run through those again in the first week of January to get you back into work mode and thinking about serious matters again.

Today and tomorrow, our final two papers to share with you have a seasonal theme. Today, written for BravoSolution (now part of Jaggaer of course) in 2014, we have the 12 Procurement Days of Christmas. Here’s what we said when we launched it.


We have tried to combine a bit of humour with some serious procurement messages, and hope it will get you thinking, whether you’re a beginner in procurement or a grizzled veteran of numerous negotiations and cost-reduction initiatives. Here’s an extract to whet your appetite, taken from the introduction and first section of the paper.

The Twelve Procurement Days of Xmas

Many of you will know the old traditional Christmas song, the Twelve Days of Christmas. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but what very few people realise is the purpose behind the song.

But now, after years of research, Spend Matters and BravoSolution can bring you the truth. It wasn’t written to accompany a pagan fertility rite, or to remind Christians of key stories from the Bible. In fact, it was written as a training course for procurement people, aimed (in a very forward thinking manner) at both new starters it the profession and key budget holders or stakeholders in spending organisations.

Yes, long before the days of category management, CIPS, ISM or even Spend Matters, people were interested in improving procurement performance. And this song taught them pretty much all they needed to know about our profession. So, let’s analyse and explain just what we mean.

On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree

What is the very first principle of procurement – critical for budget holder and buyer? Surely it is simply to know and understand what you are buying. We must ensure we have a robust and clear specification, describing what we want well enough that the supplier understands and we get what we really want and need.

So what good is this half-baked specification? What sort of a partridge? Wikipedia lists no less than 15 different genus of partridge, and no less than 46 species, from Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge to the chestnut-headed partridge (lovely roasted over an open fire...)

And don’t even get me started on pear trees. And is the partridge dead or alive? How big is the tree? Or the partridge for that matter. Is this a weird Heston Blumenthal edible main course to be served in his restaurant maybe, with a 6 inch high edible pear tree made out of turnip?

Get the specification right – rule one for our Christmas procurement training course.

Read that paper here:


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First Voice

  1. Procurement EveryWoman:

    Thankyou!!!!!!!! I’ve been trying to find this for the last few weeks.
    Brilliant piece. Thanks Peter, we’ll miss your satire, especially the “Yes Minister” and “Famous 5” spoof’s !

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