Moving Procurement Forward


Author: Margaret Gilbert

It is time to look at how we can move procurement forward in relation to technology and procurement leadership.  When it comes to technology have we spent any time in looking at what our technology needs are now – as well as into the future.

As procurement practitioners we have to keep an eye on this area, assess what our organisation’s needs are and likely to be. This is a big test but is only the first step, the second step is to keep management informed as to the needs and the issues that have to be managed and the likely spend required.

We cannot stay still, we have to move procurement forward.  One way of doing this is for procurement practitioners to ‘step up’ and be a procurement leader that can provide leadership.

The danger of being left behind Procurement is not static, we cannot continue to undertake procurement as we always have. Our organisations require the best procurement solutions. If we cannot provide these, there is a danger of procurement being minimised.

While technology can provide procurement solutions from a technical perspective there is still the requirement for strategic thinking about options and possibilities.

There is the opportunity to achieve positive procurement through relationship and innovation and ensure that we make procurement resilient through our actions.

Looking forward we should aim for both male and female procurement leaders. This is important to gather different viewpoints.

The question is: how and where do we find procurement leaders. How can we find, attract and more importantly retain.

Talent acquisition – Procurement needs talented people – not only in terms of procurement skills but also to be able to grow, be empowered, promote procurement and mentor interested others.   Retaining procurement practitioners is essential as is but providing a clear pathway and training for additional skills. These additional skills can provide a means for promotion and also leadership.

Inspiration – inspiration should be encouraged but inspiration can come from within.  Encouragement needs to be given for procurement practitioners to feel confident in sharing that inspiration.

Transformation – while procurement needs to be transformed so do procurement practitioners. We need to be transformed from order takers to proactive procurement practitioners who can provide value and make strategic and operational decisions.


We certainly need procurement transformation as well as to how to grow and manage talented procurement and supply chain practitioners. One way of doing this is to take a hard look at what is really needed (in terms of systems and procedures – the way we do things) and also how to grow procurement leaders and leadership.

Procurement leaders and leadership: procurement reform

We should not put this in the ‘too hard’ basket. Procurement practitioners need to be able to debate the need for procurement leaders and procurement direction. At present the whole issue of procurement leaders and leadership is ‘hidden’ and we need to be able to open this up for discussion.  Awareness raising is key for the need to identify procurement leaders. Once identified we should encourage and empower those leaders to lead. we should consider the following:


  1. Professional development
  2. Salary


  1. ‘Soft’ skills
  2. Procurement qualifications


  1. Salary increase
  2. Professional development
  3. Acknowledgement
  4. Bonus?


  1. Acknowledgement
  2. Be at the table

As you can see there are similarities such as professional development, recognition, acknowledgement and salary that can apply this to procurement practitioners and procurement specifically.

Innovation is adding to what procurement can achieve. Innovation and value creation can also be about adding value to our own skills/roles.

The way forward

We have ‘processed’ procurement and we now should aim at providing mechanisms for procurement practitioners to ‘grow’, allow fresh thinking and encourage empowered procurement practitioners. From there then specific procurement will change.

Question: Do you think outside the ‘box’?

Why have I combined these two issues together? Well, three really if you add in moving procurement forward. We have to focus on the direction that procurement should take, the ‘how’ i.e. technology and the focus i.e. people.

We should encompass and integrate the value of procurement leaders who can provide direction and vision. They can assist with procurement leadership and to move procurement from  being ‘process’ orientated to procurement strategy, relationships and clarity of thought and ideas that removes the ‘in somame box thinking’.

Procurement practitioners have to get out of their comfort zone and look at all options rather than the ‘same way’.

So technology  the issue here is context and price.

Context – relevancy, need and time.

Price – the need to budget when technology change is ongoing.

Procurement leaders – it is time to find and attract procurement leaders. There has to be a focus on the so procurement’s viewpoint is listened to.

There are 2-3 significant issues facing procurement which have to be managed if we want future relevant procurement.

Are we ready for the upcoming changes? That is the question – we just need the answers and we need them soon.


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