Football managers’ contracts and procurement

20 May 2013
A recent article in the sports pages of a national paper gave me cause to think about the similarities between procurement and football. The contrasting settlement terms of two prominent football club managers made me realise that in procurement, success is often quantified both in terms of what success looks like but also how it is rewarded. Failure, on the other hand, is often left to the contract administrator to deal with through remediation or severance terms.  In one case, the termination of a contract for failure, or perceived failure, resulted in a large pay off equalling the remaining years of the deal. The other was only eligible for a year’s remuneration, a quarter of the time remaining. As procurement professionals does this give us food for thought? Staying on the theme of football perhaps parallels can be drawn between Manchester United’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson and procurement relationships between buyers and suppliers. Transposing the football reference to procurement; then perhaps keeping faith with a supplier who does not start the relationship with a stellar performance can pay dividends in the long run. The contrary position with this viewpoint, assuming we know what success looks like, is judging the right time to severe the relationship with a mediocre or underperforming supplier. The alignment of corporate strategy with an effective procurement strategy will greatly help in delivering the levels of performance aspired to. ☛ Tom Alford is associate director at Turner & Townsend contract services
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