Tag Archives: value of procurement

Three Technical Terms Procurement Pros Should Stop Using Now

Do these technical procurement terms have a place in today’s organisation?


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Technical procurement terms. Whether you love ’em or loathe ’em you’ll probably have experienced definition disagreements and C-suite confusions. And that begs the question, do they have a place in today’s organisation?

For Nick Dobney, Former Global Head of Procurement – Puma Energy, procurement terms is the one thing that really gets under is skin. “There are terms that my C-suite won’t understand, my stakeholders won’t understand and, frankly, in procurement we spend a lot of time debating them as well.”

Nick believes that all the time and effort spent defining and redefining technical procurement terms is distracting procurement professionals away from delivering on behalf of the business. At Big Ideas Zurich last year, he outlined three of the terms causing him the most grief.

1. Tender

“My team know full well to never come to me and talk about tenders,” Nick jokes. He argues that “tender” is such a broad word, open to so much interpretation, that it has actually become meaningless.

“What do you want to do?” he asks. “Are you selecting a supplier? Are you exploring the market? Are you benchmarking your costs? If those are the things you’re doing, let’s say them. Let’s not wrap them up or hide it into the word “tender.”

2. Direct/Indirect

In procurement we constantly talk about direct and indirect spend.

“I’ve been in procurement for 25 years and I’ve never worked in a manufacturing company.” In a manufacturing company it might make total sense to use these terms and easy to understand the difference between direct and indirect spend. But the same can not be said for service companies.

Nick worked for an airline, where the distinction is unclear. “We bought aircraft, we bought fuel, we bought engineering services, we bought food and drink, we bought ticketing systems, we bought call centre operations. What’s direct and indirect?”

“In my world when I talk to the C-suite I need to talk about impacting operating expenditure, capital expenditure or the cost of goods sold.” Whilst it might be ok to reference indirect and direct spend amongst procurement professionals Nick advises not to waste energies trying to explain the terms to the wider business.

3. SRM

Some call it Strategic Relationship Management. Others say Supplier Relationship Management. “I don’t think [a room full of procurement professionals] could come together with a single definition,” says Nick.

“I know I’ve never used the words SRM in conversations with the CEO. The fundament of SRM means getting the best performance I can out of the suppliers I choose. So let’s talk about it as performance. Let’s talk about it as a means by which I get the performance I require in my business from my supply base and from my suppliers.”

Speaking in these accessible terms makes the procurement function accessible to business leaders and that’s what procurement professionals should be striving for. “We want to break those doors down. There’s lots of talk about getting procurement a seat at the top table and the first thing we have to do is make sure these terms we’re talking about – we only use amongst ourselves!”

Impacting the business

“The terms we use with our business leaders has got to be the terms that they understand,” Nick explains. “Can you explain simply and straightforwardly the impact you are having on the business?”

Leaders in your business want to know:

  • Are you taking assets of our balance sheet so we can free up resources to invest in product development?
  • Are you improving our margins?
  • Are you getting a better return on our investments?
  • Are you reducing our net debt?

And as Nick says, “the language we use is fundamental to how we can move away from being seen as a very technical function into being a function that really does contribute to the business.”

Nick Dobney speaking at Big Ideas Zurich 2018


Read All About It! Procurious Pioneering Conversations in the News

Wherever you look, procurement is in the news. And Procurious is helping to drive this by pioneering conversations in the media. So come, read all about it!

Here at Procurious, our goal is always to help our community advance. We do this by sharing effective strategies and fresh insights on the latest hot button news, trends, and events shaping the procurement and supply chain profession.

Of course, we do so daily on our platform. But we’re also working to really extend our value in the news media by sharing information that procurement needs on a day-to-day basis.

All this helps to grow awareness of not only the Procurious community, but also the procurement profession as a whole. We don’t want to limit ourselves to just talking procurement. We want people to know the procurement perspective on all the major events happening around the world now.

Here are just some of the topics our founder Tania Seary, and the Procurious team, have been commenting on recently.

Showing the Value of Your Profession

As the conversation around procurement grows online, and CPOs increasingly command a seat in the boardroom, it’s more important than ever for procurement professionals to be bold and share information that demonstrates the value that procurement brings to an organisation.

That could be something as simple as using positive words and imagery in discussions online. Or as complex as a CPO defining value metrics around a key business issue. These conversations can help draw a direct, positive link between what procurement are doing, and what the C-suite is concerned about.

Having the Courage to Drive Global Change

The procurement profession is being challenged to recalibrate its thinking and skills around new realities facing our world.

To add the most value to their organisations, leaders must be agile enough to handle unexpected global events like Brexit; master futuristic technology such as cognitive procurement; turn innovations like 3-D printing into business opportunities, and more.

Today’s procurement professionals must be willing to take new risks to tackle these challenges together. This can happen through social collaboration and online conversations with their teams and stakeholders. None of us can go it alone! By tapping into the broader procurement community, we can summon the courage we need to drive global change.

Winning the War for Talent

The supply chain has grown increasingly complex and global. With this comes more demand for workers who have greater technical skills to tackle these changes head on.

Procurement needs professionals who can specialise in one area, but also understand the broader businesses issues and can have conversations with stakeholders.

The true test for organisations is ultimately attracting those individuals, which comes down to having a responsive and engaging presence on social media.

Stay Tuned for More News!

As a profession, we need to stay dedicated to educating people outside of our community on what procurement is all about.

Stay tuned for additional “New and Noteworthy” blogs to hear more about some of the hot news topics and conversations we’re having, to help our profession and community thrive in this changing world.