Is it time for procurement officers to lose the title and get a life?

No caption

When the Law Society and government in NZ introduced new law governing lawyers to up the performance of the profession, the cost of a practising certifcate went up too.

This prompted many organisations and in house teams to take a long hard look at who really needed the lawyer title, with its costly price tag.

Crown Commercial Service in the UK was last week awarded a Program of Visionary Change Award at the IACCM Forum in Nevada to recognise the courage shown in changing everything in their procurement function. One of those changes was throwing out the word “procurement” from job titles. Now, they are a commercial manager or a contract manager.

In a session on Day two of the IACCM Americas Forum, John Hansen, Bill Huber and John Proverbs ran a session talking about the procurement evolution and changing roles.

In summing up Bill said:

  • Stop thinking of selves as strategic sourcing when you are all about ‘show me the money’ and start solving the real problems;
  • See the big business picture rather than the cost savings;
  • Demonstrate value value value;
  • Be tech savvy;
  • Get clear on compliance-is it for compliance sake or genuine regulatory or risk issues;
  • Get the courage to provide “one throat to choke”; and
  • Outcomes not inputs rule.

The final words in the session went to John Proverbs who said: “It is time to stop a single focus on Ts and Cs and switch to (Ts and Cs) ^2 ie: Terms and Conditions balanced with Trust and Collaboration and to focus less on suppliers only and to widen perspective to all partners in the value chain.”

Many lawyers saw, and still see, the loss of a practising certificate as a wound, an insult, an affront to their importance.

Observing the same thing happening to procurement people, I can now see that far from being an insult it was a powerful opportunity to take a more integrated, collaborative wider role in the organisation.

Procurement people have a choice, learning from the lawyers, to take a chance in losing the title to become the builders of value and the protectors of trusting relationships, not the nickel and dimers who inadvertently destroy trust and value.

The good news (or not, depending on your perspective) is that the trusted advisors, formerly known as lawyers, are thriving and not just surviving.

Photo by Jason Creaghan

Jennie Vickers is ANZ director for the International Association for Commercial Contract Management. Reach her at

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act