Panellists discussed the challenges facing the procurement profession
Panellists discussed the challenges facing the procurement profession

Step in and lead on sustainability, buyers told

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
31 October 2019

Procurement professionals should place themselves at the centre of business efforts to become more sustainable, the CIPS UK Conference was told.

James Allen, asset management director at Arriva, said consideration of lifecycle costs inevitably included issues around sustainability.

“I see procurement being given more responsibility,” he said. “Someone needs to be managing lifecycle cost. I see procurement at the heart of that.”

Patrick Dunne, director of group property, procurement and cost base transformation at J Sainsbury, said: “We have to step in and lead on it. Sustainability is the next frontier that procurement can lead to the next chapter.”

Concerning the cost implications of sustainability initiatives, Dunne said: “Competitiveness is not about price – it’s about meeting the expectations of customers.”

Allen, who said Arriva’s biggest challenge was moving away from diesel to hydrogen cell and electric vehicles, added: “Cost and the sustainability agenda should overlap. The good decisions are usually sustainable decisions.”

During a panel discussion of the most pressing issues facing procurement in 2020, Melinda Johnson, commercial director at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the challenge was to “deliver policy through procurement” by working with suppliers, customers and communities.

“We can transform communities through innovative strategies,” she said, adding that a training programme on social value was beginning in the new year.

Johnson said she wanted to build a “business insight function” to leverage information and intelligence so procurement and contract managers were “empowered to proactively manage supply chains and markets”.

“The only thing holding us back is confidence and imagination,” she said.

Concerning new technology, Johnson said: “It’s about getting people out of mundane and boring jobs to do more value-add things.”

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