The generation game

12 March 2013
Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementOne of the events I took part in last month was the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) conference. In addition to chairing a panel debate, I attended the morning sessions to hear the keynote speakers. As part of a wider talk, one plenary presenter put forward his vision of the ‘future of procurement’. He gave three options: 1. Procurement has increasing success, takes on more categories and gets more work. 2. Procurement professionals take on a more advisory, consultancy-type role within their organisation. 3. Procurement survives as a business capability, but not as a function. What he didn’t mention, which I believe is increasingly important to the future of procurement, is to find ways to help your organisation generate income. That is something Ian Fenwick, procurement manager at the Football Association, is doing by considering how the group’s supply chain can impact on its revenue streams. And the more he helps the organisation make or save, the more money can be spent improving the quality of the game in England. As Fenwick says: “Once procurement has started impacting and contributing to core revenue streams, it’s very easy to make the case for procurement.” It may not be possible for all organisations, such as those in the public sector, to take this approach. It is, however, an excellent example of what can be achieved when you understand what the overall objective of the business you work for is. At the LUPC event, Marcus McDonald, director of finance and estates at the Royal College of Music, said savings delivered by procurement could be measured in the number of musical instruments they could now buy. And having more new grand pianos, for example, helps them attract excellent teachers and brings in students, which in turn, translates to revenue. As is so often said, understanding the goals of your business is about understanding its overall aims and being able to ‘speak its language’. These are just two examples of this in action.
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