Tag Archives: procurement development

Is supply chain swallowing up procurement?

The pandemic thrust supply chain management and risk mitigation into the limelight. What happens to the procurement folks?

This article was originally published on Supply Chain Dive on October 22 2020 and is republished here with permission of the author and website.

Bonnie was quiet at dinner, and her father asked what was wrong. She said in school today, her 6th grade class was talking about careers and what their parents did for work.

Bonnie said her mother, Monica, was a senior buyer at a local electronics manufacturing plant. Other parents were small business owners, electricians, plumbers, teachers, members of local police and fire departments, and even a professional surfer. Bonnie’s friend Tyler’s father was a supply chain manager for an online marketplace, and the class voted his job “coolest and best.”

“Why can’t you get a cool job like Tyler’s dad, Mom?” asked Bonnie.

And that is one of the core problems in the procurement profession these days. The identity of the profession is changing, once again.

​Pandemic-related disruptions in consumer and industrial supply chains are making headlines, pushing the once relatively obscure work into the limelight. How companies manage their supply chains has become as important to a company’s success as financial health, market share and customer relationships.

And that is why many companies have reshuffled leadership, appointing managers from other functions to run supply chain operations. These managers often have limited or no procurement, planning or logistics background. The logic is that if the talented finance or marketing manager is now in charge of the supply chain, it must be important.

In many companies, this expanded universe of supply chain management, with leadership from finance or marketing functions, is swallowing up the somewhat independent procurement function. Rather than actively driving the supply side of the business, the function may again be relegated into a subservient support role.

But we can change that.

Acknowledge the change in the business climate

Companies have finally discovered the importance of the supply chain and are adding resources to shore it up. Supply chain management is also more customer facing these days, so adding an existing customer-facing leader may actually be the best thing for the business.

Some procurement leaders may feel they have lost influence or leadership. But the increase in importance and scope of the supply chain function should lift all participants. Consumer-facing businesses must address questions and concerns about the origins of their products. Are they sustainably sourced? Free of forced labor? Fair trade? Procurement holds the answers and can shine here.

Procurement professionals are a resilient bunch. Embrace the change and get ready to contribute in an expanded scope with certainly higher visibility.

Own procurement’s core responsibilities

Sourcing, supplier performance and managing supply chain risk are procurement responsibilities that aren’t going away. If anything, these critical functions are becoming more important.

Those new to supply chain management, or in existing functions like planning, distribution or transportation, may not fully comprehend the complexities of the procurement process and how tough it is to manage a full range of global suppliers.

This is a perfect time to reinforce our reputation in an evolving organization by doing our jobs very well and teaching others about the nuances of supply management.

Writing a Brief for the Procurement of Goods or Services

Whether you aim to start your own business or are looking for ways to up your game in terms of paperwork, the procurement of goods and services document is something that’ll inevitably come your way.

procurement of goods
From Pixabay via Pexels

Whether you aim to start your own business or are looking for ways to up your game in terms of paperwork, the procurement of goods and services document is something that’ll inevitably come your way.

According to Convey Co, it is estimated that the global B2C sales will exceed $4.5 trillion by 2021, while at the same time B2B sales are expected to rise to $17.6 trillion. Whether you operate as a small business that handles shipping papers and orders, or as a manufacturer or delivery intermediary, documents pertaining to the procurement of goods and services can often make or break a contract.

While the document is a standard affair for companies that focus on shipping, eCommerce and other trade industries, it may prove challenging to those who are uninitiated. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can write a brief for the procurement of goods and services regardless of the type of good or service you intend to procure or ship to a third party.

Procurement of Goods and Services Basics

Before we go any further, it’s worth noting what the procurement of goods and services represents – the process of agreeing to the terms and acquiring goods or services from an external source. The external source in question can be an existing B2B networking partner, an open market bid you’ve made previously, or procurement via tendering.

Generally, the process of procurement involves making buying decisions for your company under certain conditions outlined in the brief and delivered to the external source in question.

Due to the nature of these documents, its good practice to rely on professional platforms such as Evernote (a cloud-based writing and editing service), Trust My Paper (an outsourcing and editing platform), Hemingway (service which is used for legibility optimisation) and WoWGrade (a dedicated writing platform) in your brief writing activities.

Typical briefs for the procurement of goods and services involve clear outlines of all factors pertaining to the sales/purchase contract, including quantity, delivery, handling, discount and price fluctuations, as well as the procurement timeline. These are technical documents that are standard in the corporate, manufacturing and shipping industries, but very important as they legally bind all parties involved to respect their agreed-upon contract.

Advantages of Writing a Procurement of Goods and Services Brief

Now that we have a clearer idea of what briefs for the procurement of goods and services are in practice, let’s take a quick glance at the benefits of their existence in your business’ documentation. Given that businesses typically work as suppliers or buyers with a multitude of other companies and brands, often internationally and at the same time, it can get daunting to manage the paperwork efficiently.

Even though procurement is only one small part of the contractual equation in this sense, it can still take up a lot of your time and even small deviations can cause you to lose trust or much-needed goods, services or revenue if you are a supplier.

In that respect, writing procurement brief outlines in advance can bring several benefits to your business going forward, including the following points:

  • Streamlined operational performance
  • Standardised documentation workflow
  • Improved accuracy and clarity of the procurement data
  • Lowered margin for the procurement error
  • Growth of positive brand reputation and industry authority

Writing Guidelines to Consider

Write a Brief Overview

The first item on your list in terms of writing a brief for the procurement of goods and services is to create an overview of your documentation. This is the segment of the brief in which you are expected to give a short outline of your business, its product portfolio and relevant website links for the receiver to follow up on.

It’s also important to provide a clear description of the procurement items you are requisitioning, as well as a brief summary of their intended purpose and its target audience. These items will allow the reader to quickly discern what the document is about without going over minute details or items in the order itself.

Define your Procurement Method

Depending on what type of goods or services you aim to procure via the written brief, you can propose the procurement methodology personally or ask for suggestions from the target business. It’s always good practice to state which procurement methods you’d like to see in the follow-up letter depending on your own business’ infrastructure and resources.

You should also take potential issues and complications into consideration based on the previous procurement experience in order to anticipate bottlenecks before they rear their head. Data in regards to past procurements or sources of information you are willing to share in regards to the particular goods or services should also be attached in this section of the brief for your reader’s convenience.

Detail your Deliverables

The deliverables section of your procurement brief is self-explanatory. However, it also has to abide by certain standards and expectations. Mainly, your deliverables should be outlined based on quantity and (in case of manufacture) the time you expect them to be completed by.

For example, if you are procuring certain types of pipes for your business, you should note any special requests you may have in regards to their length, custom build, etc. You can also add a small addendum in the deliverables section of your brief that will inform the reader that they can contact you in case of additional questions or concerns in regards to your procurement document.

Outline the Procurement Timeline

The timeline of procurement is one of the most important elements in the outlined brief as it pertains to specific deadlines in regards to your requested goods and services. While not complex or lengthy, the procurement timeline section is essential and should be clearly highlighted for emphasis.

Elements such as a procurement return deadline, procurement decision deadline as well as clarification meeting dates (if necessary) should be included. This section can be capped off with a listing of your contact information, such as email and phone, which the reader can use to let you know if the procurement request was accepted.

Request a Follow-Up on the Brief

Lastly, a formal follow-up should be included as the final element of your procurement brief for the sake of colloquial and professional courtesy. The follow-up request should be in the form of a simple call to action that will respectfully inform the reader of your anticipation of their response in regards to your document.

It’s good practice to repeat the procurement return deadline from the previous section to drive the point of urgency home. After all, it is in both parties’ interest that the procurement brief goes through so that the goods and services can exchange hands as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Creating a Clear and Streamlined Template

Once your brief for the procurement of goods or services is set in stone, you can easily retrofit it for different requests, both as a supplier or a demander. Make sure to brand your document accordingly in order to make it stand out with elements such as business logo, minute visual elements as well as a unique style of writing.

If your requests are within the realm of deliverable possibilities for the receiver, your procurement will always go through, additional clarification or not. Write your procurement brief outline through the set of guidelines we’ve discussed previously and your business documentation will be that much clearer and more streamlined for it.

How to Make Your Professional Development Budget Friendly

In a cost-conscious organisation, ensuring that your professional development opportunities are budget friendly is key.

The time has come around again, at least in my organisation, to set development plans for the year ahead. I’ve come across objectives from becoming more knowledgeable about a topic to completing a formal qualification.

Budget Friendly Development

Whatever you decide to set in your development plan, I want to share with you some ideas about sources of development activities.  In particular, budget friendly, free activities.

As some background, many (if not all) professional careers require Continuous Professional Development (CDP), counted by CPD hours, units or points. Depending on the profession you may gain hours by attending seminars, self-education, presenting at conferences, or even reading a book.

CIPS, for example, suggest 30 CPD hours a year for procurement professionals. By comparison, Australian lawyers are required to obtain 10 CPD ‘units’ – however the criteria is stricter.

Without further ado, here are six ideas for low cost CPD activities.

  1. Learn from other areas of your organisation

Step into another team for a meeting, a day, or longer.  As a procurement professional this is a great way to better understand your stakeholders and their needs, and build the relationship.  Conversely, you may seek to second a stakeholder from the business to support a procurement activity or category management.

  1. Public seminars and lectures (attend in person)

Usually accompanied by complimentary breakfast in the AM and drinks in the PM, many universities and service organisations host free seminars and lectures to update the audience on case studies and industry updates.

To stay updated, subscribe to the mailing lists (for Universities) and let your service provider know you’re interested in attending information events.

Needless to say it’s a great way to network, as well as an information gathering exercise to support your category management.

  1. Learning communities – online courses

Along the same lines, there are free online courses hosted by universities though websites such as ‘Future Learn’.  Some upcoming courses include ‘Management & Leadership: Leading a Team’ and ‘Business Process Management: an introduction to process thinking’ – both from Queensland University of Technology.

Other institutions hosting courses include University of Aberdeen, Cardiff University, and the University of Auckland. Program topics span across management, medical, social enterprise – the courses are constantly updated.

Sign up, give it a go. Most courses provide a certificate of participation to wave in the face of your development plan checklist.

  1. YouTube It

YouTube is riddled with hilarious cat videos and fluffy pink unicorns jumping on rainbows. It’s also a great source of inspirational and educational videos – Procurious even has a YouTube channel!  It’s free and not time intensive.

Ted-Ed videos are usually 3-5 minutes, however they are highly addictive. We can also learn new skills to make our work more effective, get technology tips, and learn how make ‘Word’ number formatting cooperate. Remember to reward yourself with another cute cat video. 

  1. Library isn’t just for books

When was the last time you stepped foot – physically – in a library?  You’ll be please to know that you don’t need to leave the comfort of you couch to benefit from your local library these days.  Libraries are technology hubs and, generally speaking, you should be able to access e-books from your local council library.

If you are keen on that rewarding feeling of turning a page, you can find a whole selection of top books here, recommended by Procurious members.

  1. Stand in the spotlight

A friend recently told me that out of the YouTube viewing population, only 0.1 per cent produce the content.

I can’t validate the statistic but let’s consider a procurement conference with 10 presenters and 100 delegates. That means we’re learning from 10 per cent of the population.

Surely you have something great to share! Nominate yourself to present at a conference, write an article – choose a method to tell us what you know.

Depending in the rules you follow, these activities may contribute to your CPD hours and/or your development plan. So go forth and be better than before.

Let the Procurious community know below if you have more ideas to achieve CPD hours and achieve your professional development plan in a fun, budget friendly way.