My colleague and friend Andrew White was kind enough this morning to send me a link to a very interesting article in today’s Financial Times: When Procurement is a Matter of Life and Death. I think it’s a good article from the standpoint of bringing up that procurement need not be a backwater for “little people.” It’s a wonderful place to be for capable people that are fascinated with how to build a top-notch, innovative supply base while simultaneously keeping spend to a minimum. I’m really glad that people are more and more broadly recognizing the important and strategic contribution procurement can make to the organization.
But the article also demonstrates the continued lack of understanding of what procurement does. Lost tanks? Procurement BUYS things – including tanks – but I’ve never seen the task of choosing where to keep things or setting up an inventory system that effectively tracks it location as in-scope for procurement. Procurement’s job ends when the purchased items or services are received. And a helicopter with a kitchenette? Procurement doesn’t design the products it buys – at most procurement would work with suppliers to facilitate input into design, not decide what features to put in.
Someday I hope to read articles that blame procurement for things that really are their fault – such as picking unduly risky vendors, not addressing supplier performance issues, or paying too much for what they buy. And until then, I guess I’ll be glad to settle for procurement increasingly getting the attention that it deserves.