CPO Crunch: Why do you do what you do?

David Rae

Taking time to clarify your team's purpose is a powerful – and valuable – task

An exercise we’ve carried out on a few occasions over the years at Procurement Leaders has been to ask chief procurement officers to share the value propositions they have in place for their function.

It’s useful because it forces extremely busy people to take a step back and think deeply about why they do what they do. What are the ultimate goals of those negotiations with suppliers? Why are they spending time building relationships with certain suppliers and not others? Where should scarce resources and investment dollars be spent?

A value proposition, or value statement if done properly, is not an easy thing to produce and even more challenging to agree and implement. It takes a lot of discussion and debate and in no way can it be done in isolation from the business.

So, I was delighted to receive a note from a CPO member the other day who shared how they had recently completed a strategic planning exercise culminating in a north star and vision that put the Covid years – and its overhang – firmly in the “rear-view mirror”.

Procurement Leaders had worked with his leadership team in 2023 to help kick off the initiative, with a challenge that procurement had to get back to a more meaningful purpose. “The provocation enabled us get back to strategy, think about how our decisions affect our stakeholders, suppliers and the communities we do business in,” the CPO shared.

The tip of the iceberg of all of the hard work is a value statement and north star that can be communicated easily, used to gain buy-in from a diverse set of stakeholders, and constantly referred back to when making decisions under pressure.

But it’s what lies beneath the waterline that’s important – for each of the domains in which this organisation plays, there are “multiyear, complimentary strategies which stack up to a powerful vision for the company”.

Such strategies take energy, time, and collaboration to produce and execute. But, when done properly, they act as powerful drivers of value – both for procurement and the wider business.

It’s an exercise that if you haven’t completed recently – and certainly post-Covid – then you should, as a matter of urgency.

Thank you, Miami

So, that’s a wrap on the Americas Procurement Congress 2024. Last week, more than 200 members of the Procurement Leaders ecosystem congregated in Miami to collaborate, learn and connect around the major issues we face. Hosted by Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau, CEO and publisher of MIT Technology Review, the Congress was a resounding hit with attendees. I’ll share some deeper insights and takeaways next week.

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