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Global CEO blog

Welcome to the Global CEO (UK) blog. Its aim is to draw attention to developments and ideas in the world of procurement and supply management and in the work of the profession’s Institute.

We change the blog monthly, and I would welcome your comments personally on ceoblog@cips.org

David Noble FCIPS

The tools to manage overseas aid spend are within our grasp

Do we spend too much on overseas aid? In a time of slow economic growth, and shrinking domestic public spending, this is an obvious – and relevant – question. A better question might be: how wisely –and effectively – are these funds invested? With over half of all development aid spent on purchasing goods and services, this is a question that procurement professionals must answer.

Creating a transparent path direct from funds to project completion reveals areas in the supply chain that need to be improved– and identifies best practice that can usefully be shared. CIPS has been assisting governments and organisations to adopt more effective procurement methods, and ensure that such funding does precisely what it is meant to do. And in many countries, we know that good procurement is making a difference to people’s daily lives. It has lowered the cost of HIV drugs in South Africa, facilitated the modernisation of the water industry and enabled fishing villages in Madagascar to protect their stocks and raise their income.

Ethical standards must be maintained in any donor project – and this can be a challenge in countries where procurement processes are not well established. That is why, for the several donor-funded projects that CIPS has delivered, we bid through the World Bank and the UN where there is the upmost transparency and robust processes ensure a level playing field for providers.The World Bank is exemplary in the way in which projects are developed and awarded. Those involved in scoping the solution are excluded from bidding for a contract. This separation of duties is critical, and should be applied to all donor-funded projects.

The CIPS charter objective is to promote and develop excellence in purchasing and supply and to educate a new generation of professionals in the field. To this end, we have worked closely with the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Crown Agents to develop and professionalise procurement skills around the world, opening CIPS study centres in every country where the institute is active so that we can instil ethics and professionalism through their procurement system and share best practice.

We have worked on capability and capacity building projects in Bangladesh and Bhutan for instance, upskilling government procurement departments and building sustainable programmes for the region. Maintaining best practice and monitoring the efficiency of procurement spend is an easier task with the ongoing development of digital supply networks and the rise of the ‘internet of things’, providing digital trails that prove where the money is spent, what savings are made and how the project is fulfilling the objectives set for it.

They also continue to reveal new ways of communication between supplier and buyer across a project, reducing waste and speeding up processes. Take for example the Spanish supermarket Mercadona. By using digital technology across its supply chain, it can deliver fish from the sea to local stores in minutes. Even before he heads for shore, the fisherman uploads details of his catch via a smartphone app to the central system, where it is checked against the fresh fish stock in stores. By the time he reaches the harbour, the delivery van is waiting to take the catch straight to a store for sale. For a supplier of fresh goods, Mercadona’s digital investment delivers unarguable benefits for the supermarket chain, suppliers and the consumer – a win over the whole supply chain.

As digital technology spreads transparency and smart processes through procurement projects globally, it will simplify the ability to monitor and maintain the spend and sustainability of donor-funded projects.

Get in touch with me at ceoblog@cips.org