Raising our profile

David Noble, Group CEO, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply
15 January 2013

David Noble, CIPS CEOGetting our message 
across to CEOs and CFOs is one of our greatest challenges as a professional body. If we want to really improve the status and recognition of procurement, we have to reach beyond our own community and get professionals from other business disciplines to join in the conversation.

In last month’s column, I talked about the need for procurement practitioners of the future to demonstrate a greater breadth of knowledge across a range of business skills. That’s partly to enhance their own professional armoury, but it’s also a good way to get a better understanding of the role procurement plays in an organisation in relation to the other disciplines and, perhaps more importantly, what sort of role it’s perceived as playing by our fellow professionals.

Every member of a managing board, whether private or public sector, should want to know what procurement is doing for that organisation. As our president, Paula Gildert, said in her recent SM interview, we have our seat at the table and now it’s time for boards to recognise that procurement can have a profound influence across every aspect of a business. But to do that we have to get the attention of the ‘C-suite’ of leaders and that means doing more than delivering a 30-second elevator pitch at a conference. The message must have compelling content and be sustained over time – occasional opportunist communications are not enough.

So, during this year you will see us campaign to raise the profile of procurement among other business disciplines. Our main communication channel will be CIPS’ new, subscription-only quarterly magazine, Supply Business, launched this month. The successor to CPO Agenda, the title continues to feature high-end journalism 
to stimulate and challenge CPOs to improve their performance. Supply Business has also been designed to spike the interest of our other target audience – those business leaders who have an interest in procurement and supply, but who may have low awareness of the contribution procurement can make to their organisation’s success, above and beyond its impact on the bottom line. Supply Business will look at the problems 
that keep CPOs awake at night and examine the solutions that let them demonstrate their value to their organisations. It will also address the blurring of the boundaries between disciplines and, if we get the message right, start to draw these other professions into a dialogue with the procurement and supply community – 
or at least engage them in exploring how we connect with business leaders.

Pay on time or be ‘named and shamed’

Business and enterprise Minister Michael Fallon has written to all FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies to warn them that they will be named and shamed this new year if they fail to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

It’s been estimated that around 60 per cent of the total UK supply chain has already signed up to the code, where signatories commit to paying their suppliers within an agreed timeframe and to ensure there is a proper process in place for dealing with any payment issues that crop up.

However, only 27 of the current signatories are FTSE 100 companies, and for the FTSE 250 the position is even worse – only five have signed up so far.

Cash flow problems are the cause of many company failures, particularly SMEs and, as the CEO of an SME with large corporate customers myself, I know that certainty around getting paid in a timely fashion helps to give CIPS the confidence to invest in developing new services to deliver our mission. A list of all the companies that have already signed up 
can be found on the Prompt Payment Code website.

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