Managing Expectations Of Procurement Practitioners


Author: Margaret Gilbert

We should be asking and gauging the expectations of procurement practitioners. We might well be surprised at the answers.

There can not be one answer, but I believe that procurement practitioners’ expectations are quite low. This is a shame.

We need experienced procurement practitioners who have high expectations of their role and procurement. To me, procurement practitioners accept their ‘lot’ and are not prepared to look for change or improvement.

There is a need to strategically look at what procurement and procurement practitioners’ needs.  At present procurement practitioners are operating in silos and there is no collective ‘voice’ so change can occur. Frankly, procurement has to change to reflect future requirements including the influence of future technology.

There is a link here in relation to others’ perception of procurement. The perception is not always positive in that because procurement is seen as a stumbling block that says ‘no, you can’t’ rather than ‘we can help and this is how’.

Procurement has to step up and to be relevant. We cannot stand still and we have to be more agile. If we don’t then we risk irrelevancy. We have to continue to provide value to our organisations.

If we let perceptions continue and morph into something more, then procurement is in trouble.  Procurement practitioners have to move from technical experts to being communicators and for this to happen there is an urgent need for ‘soft’ skills. Communication is key and with technology able to – or will be able to – handle the basics then strategy and communication is essential.

Useful checklist:

  1. Go out to the organisation – ‘this is how we can help’.
  2. Provide options. – rather than saying ‘no, you can’t do this’.
  3. Provide support in timely manner. – even better be ahead of schedule.
  4. Communicate to the organisation. – ‘sell’ the ‘wins’. Don’t keep to yourself.

Let us start by having higher expectations of our role and place in the organisation. Let us ask for more.  If we don’t ask, we won’t get.

If we improve our expectations then this is the start to get what we want. In this way others’ perceptions can change.

If we stay as we are then this does not bode well for future procurement practitioners. We need a procurement paradigm shift. The question is: when does this start? The answer should be: now in 2018.

We have to start providing effective and timely procurement expertise and advice. In this way others’ perceptions can improve and this might lead to procurement change. We need to embrace change especially as this allows us to focus on what is important – procurement strategy and buyer/supplier relationship. Sometimes we focus on this but forget our internal relationships. This is shortsighted and that can lead to the perceptions that exist which can be wrong but have a foundation because we do not manage our internal customers very well

It is up to us to promote procurement and by promoting procurement we promote ourselves  Let us make a start. It is up to us to influence the future of procurement and the future of procurement practitioners.  The question is: why has it taken so long. What are we waiting for.  If we wait for others, we can wait a long time.

Bring on the procurement paradigm shift!







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