The Sourcing Strategy & The Caterers – Understanding Your Organisation


By Simon Thompson, Acquire

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Procurement teams often spend some much time working on sourcing strategies in their offices they can miss the key issues.

Tom and Pete were sourcing specialists for their company’s procurement team.

One day, Fred, their manager, informed the two that one of them would receive a promotion for their hard work. He told them that the promotion would be based on the quality of their next Sourcing Strategy. Fred then gave both men the same procurement category and said, “The main contract for this service will expire soon. Go and create the best sourcing strategy you can and, when you come back, explain to me how we should procure the category this time.”

Locking themselves in their own offices, Tom and Pete slaved away for weeks working on their sourcing strategies. They did lots of market research on the suppliers, spent days pouring over the spend data from the last couple of years, and then modeled exactly how much it was costing the supplier to provide the service.

At last, it was time for Fred to review their strategies. Both were great, he found, but he found it hard to choose which man to promote based off of them. Just as he was trying to make the decision, Fred’s boss, Charlie, the Chief Procurement Officer, walked past.

“Fred,” he said, “you look concerned. What’s the matter?” Fred explained his predicament and Charlie reviewed the strategies. “Hmm,” he said, thinking hard. “Tell Tom and Pete to go out to our operations and help the catering team for the next few days. They’re a few people short.”

Fred was puzzled by this order, but he did as he was told.

When the men returned, Charlie asked them to join him and Fred in the board room. As Tom and Pete walked in, they saw their sourcing strategies on the board room table.

“How was the catering?” asked Charlie.

“Fine,” said Pete, “but I felt a little under-utilized for my skill level.”
Charlie nodded and turned to Tom. “How about you?” he asked.

Without saying anything, Tom stood up, walked over and picked up his sourcing strategy document. He then proceeded to tear it up.

“Well done!” said Charlie. “You get the promotion!”

“What?” Pete said, astonished.

“I don’t understand,” added Fred, confused.

Tom explained: “I spent weeks creating this strategy, but I did it from the confines of my office. Within two days working with the people at our operations who most relied on the service we were procuring, I realized we didn’t need that service any longer.”


Acquire Procurement Services is a specialist procurement consultancy firm based in Brisbane.

Acquire specialises in establishing and renegotiating supply contracts for Australia’s leading organisations, and has extensive experience within the mining, oil and gas, manufacturing and utilities industries in both private and public sectors.

Together, business partners Simon Thompson and Greer Long have $7 billion worth of global supply experience and met working together at Portland Group’s Queensland’s operations.

For more information contact Simon Thompson at

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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