Procurement – Are We Self Destructing?


Author: Trevor Cameron, CPO, Thyssen Krupp

Procurement – we are our own worst enemies! We spout-off continually on our over-inflated expertise and our critical importance to industry, stroking our egos, while engaging in competition among our peers on just how good we are! If I go to another conference or event where well-meaning do-gooders and procurement peacocks fluff unendingly about procurement transformation and the future of our discipline without any real depth, I will certainly despair.

In the main at these events, it’s consultants, contractors, academics with no real life experience, IT companies and other pointless advisors that are persistently mumbling on about procurement transformation based on improved operational transaction management, category analysis, linking contract management to IT, e-sourcing, e-auctions and generally saving money hand over fist – see, it’s as simple as taking their advice and rolling in the dough.

The reality is that these activities are all basic conditions of entry, procurement 101 so to speak. You don’t get into the game unless you know and can practice these skills.

Procurement transformation has nothing to do with any of the elementary procurement skills and competencies that we have discussed. In contrast, it’s about the advanced people skills that are as elusive as a five times Melbourne Cup winner. Becoming the CEO’s trusted advisor, being admitted to the inner C-circle and contributing successfully to capacity development and long term growth within your organisation are the cornerstones of real procurement transformation. When the directors and C-level teams regard you as an equal, then and only then will have true procurement transformation occurred.

It’s time to get a grip, show me the procurement transformation exemplars within Australia where transformation has been successful, and show me the real Procurement Managers that sit with the CEO, COO, and CFO as equals. Let’s study how they did it, and eagerly seek their practical real life advice. But, when I ask around, or seek out these exceedingly rare and elusive exemplars, or these fairy tale creatures, they are no-where to be found.

In contrast, we are a highly divided and disjointed lot with CIPSA, PASA, the Source, Procurement Leaders, Procurious and a wide range of other supply management organisations, all determined to destroy our credibility by showing a highly fractured discipline with no real leaders.  They all have their own agenda’s that more often than not do not align with where we should be heading.

It’s time to reinvent our discipline, it’s time to overcome our jealous and damaging interactions and in-fighting. Procurement transformation is genuinely important, let’s all focus on finding the exemplars and real procurement experts, and lets all start agreeing on how to rebuild our procurement discipline – lest we continue along this sad road of failure and oblivion.


  • Have you heard about PASA CPO Summit in March? ‘Future Proofing You’ will be held on 13 & 14th March 2018 in Sydney. 


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