Who would have thunk it! Even though purchasing was recognized as an independent function by many railroad organizations in the 1800′s, apparently it wasn’t a legitimate profession until this year! At least according to the IAOP (the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals) and a recent article in Global Services.
And you know what else? Apparently, sourcing professionals play the key role in making sourcing engagements work and the management of an outsourcing relationship is also getting more strategic. And we do more than just manage people … we manage outcomes! Wow! I never knew! And yes, I’m being sarcastic as all get out!
I must say, as great as it is to see the profession recognized outside of the small select group of publications dedicated to the space and a handful of blogs, it’s very discouraging to see what’s probably the world’s third oldest profession (and I’ll let you guess the first two) consistently getting the shaft, which is what happens every time sourcing / supply management / spend management is introduced as a brand new function or one that only now can have a tremendous effect on the bottom line.
And do we really have to be introduced again and again? Every business that sells also has to buy. Even if you produce raw materials, you have to buy finished tools and machines to create those raw materials. You have to buy office supplies and computers to create the bills of sale and track your receivables and cash. Business have needed to buy since they started selling.
But what really stings is the fact that no one outside of purchasing seems to realize how hard it is to buy well versus how easy it is to sell. To sell, all you have to do is part some fool from his money. But to buy, you have to get what you need while still retaining enough cash on hand to cover all of your other expenses. And if you want to stay in business, you have to find a way to get more value than the other guy – when the seller only has to do one thing: part you from as much money as he possibly can.
So, although we need to thank each and every publication that gives the profession the nod, at some point we have to say hey, give us a break! Stop overplaying the fact that we’re still under-recognized and jump right to the part about how much of an impact we can have on the bottom line. Then you’ll really be doing us a favor!