Journey into the unknown…

2 August 2011
Months of my life, dare I say, even years, have been spent waiting for a train journey to end. Take this morning. Cancelled train...check, no available seat...check, signal failures...check, and a thief in first class...hmm. I kid you not. This very morning a passenger in first class swiped some drinks off a trolley and refused to pay for them because he was unhappy with the poor service. The inspector made a point of announcing that someone would be ready and waiting for them at London’s Paddington, the final destination, to either retrieve the goods or make the culprit pay up. This put me in mind of the journey of a procurement process. (“At last, a point to this madness,” you say). I have no problem investing time and energy for a desired outcome, what I hate is when the destination is unknown. We must all stay on the right track and during the purchasing process buyers need to know where they are going and how they are going to get there. A few unscheduled stops, leaves on the line, red signals and more can result in a protracted ride. So how can we make the experience more pleasurable for stakeholders, suppliers and the procurement team itself? Laying down clear expectations in contract specifications is key. You may not be able to plan for every risk, but you can be prepared for the likely ones. Skilled staff is another key to success. Some people get on board others disembark. What you don’t want is any smelly armpit-types taking up lots of space and energy, while you feel you’re getting nowhere fast. So, how can procurement’s great and good overcome the signal failures when they crop up? Regular productive communication is needed to keep your train chugging along. What people do not want to hear is that everything is being done, but a solution has yet to be found. And be sure to find value for money for stakeholders. I’ve yet to see any evidence of it in the daily commute.
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