President’s perspective - Supply Management

President’s perspective

17 December 2010
Peter Rushton, CEO, Optimum Business Solutions and CIPS PresidentMy first six weeks as CIPS president has been a busy period and a chance to meet a large number of members, giving me an insight into their current thinking on a wide spectrum of procurement issues. I was privileged to speak at two public sector conferences to help explain and promote CIPS’ strategy in the domain. Both events, the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) gathering in Manchester followed by the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government (SOPO) in Brighton were very enjoyable and stimulating. Undoubtedly, the topic of the moment is the public sector deficit and what the spending cuts will mean for our colleagues working in this sector. Without question, it’s going to be a challenging time in the months ahead for those directly impacted by the reorganisation of procurement within government, not least because the scale of change will be significant, regardless of which grapevine, journal or website you believe. I’m already receiving calls in my capacity outside of CIPS asking me to help individuals looking to find new roles and suspect many of you are also assisting colleagues in this regard. Those looking to switch from public to private sector positions will find themselves in a very competitive arena and many will need to refine or add new skills to their attributes in order to succeed. Without question, they should be turning to CIPS for help with the comprehensive range of personal development services on offer to members. Interestingly, trusted recruiters I’ve spoken to recently are telling me that having the CIPS qualification is proving a key differentiator with most employers, therefore giving a competitive advantage to candidates. From this point on, it’s all about what we deliver as a profession against the public cuts scenario that really matters. The debate prior to the October announcements seemed to drag on for a long time and inevitably so did the aftershock discussions once we knew the numbers. It is unprecedented in my time as a procurement practitioner to see and hear the words “procurement and cost reduction” so widely used in mainstream daily life. Frankly, it seems to be an early morning ritual at present on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to have a procurement-related debate. The term “localism” is clearly in vogue against the backdrop of devolved power from central government. Constant talk of more for less, improved efficiency and new ways of working currently set us up nicely for the legendary “Thought for the day” slot. This spotlight will very quickly pass on to other issues of course but, make no mistake, expectations are very high about what we’re collectively expected to deliver for UK plc and beyond. I am also fully aware that many international members are facing potentially even more challenging agendas so this must not be considered solely from a UK perspective. So far, nobody I’ve listened to has talked about the need to be truly creative and innovative in the task ahead. Successful procurement is not simply a mechanical process that operates in isolation, it requires vision and imagination. We need to see some outstanding examples of creative sourcing and supply chain management in the months and years ahead if our profession is to justify its place at the top table of economic reform. It is only through an objective measure of our contribution that we will then be able to enhance our long-term reputation accordingly. Season’s greetings to you all.
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