The Ten Commandments of Procurement, Atheist Style

Earlier this month, on Canada Day, while LOLCat was proactively learning the pledge of allegiance (which LOLCat will need when Canadians re-elect Harper), Mr. Smith asked what were The Ten Commandments of Procurement that you adhered to that were absolutely, unarguably, true under all conditions.

To get your creative juices flowing, a few weeks ago, Sourcing Innovation gave you the Ten Commandments of Procurement, Christian Style. And in case that wasn’t enough, two weeks ago SI gave you the Ten Commandments, err, Precepts of Procurement, Buddhist Style, and then last week, we gave you the Six Commandments, err, Philosophies, of Procurement, Hindu Style. But we’re not stopping there — not everyone is religious. So today’s post is for the atheists as we give you the ten commandments of Procurement, atheist style!

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your processes and practices when better ones are presented to you.

Even if you are using the best practice that is out there, that is only the best practice that is out there today. A better way might be discovered tomorrow. A good professional recognizes when something better comes along and strives to make use of it.

2. Strive to understand what the market situation really is, not what you want it to be.

Even if the market situation went unchanged for ten years, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed in the last few days. Consider the recent avian bird flu crisis. Like the dairy market between 2000 and 2006, the price of eggs stayed within a narrow band for years years until the recent avian flu crisis.

3.Supply Chain Mapping is the most reliable way of understanding your supply chain.

Not spend analysis, not (internal) customer surveys, not best guesses, mapping. To truly understand your supply chain you have to sit down and map it. Nothing except a complete raw-material source to finished product sink map for your primary product lines will allow you to get a full picture of the complexity of your supply chain.

4. Every category manager has the right to be in control of their spend.

You might be responsible for sourcing the category, but it is not your budget — it is Engineering, Marketing, HR, or Legal’s, etc. Not only is the budget owner a key member of the cross-functional team, but should have the final say on event design and final award.

5. A rigid set of rules is not necessary to be successful at Procurement. Only a desire to do the right thing is.

Procurement success is not driven by process, it is driven by passion. A passion to be the best Procurement professional you can be.

6. Every decision has consequences and you must be prepared to accept them.

There are tradeoffs between every option presented to you as a Procurement professional. Costs can only be reduced to a certain point before quality or reliability are affected. Outsourcing a function may save money, but could cost the organization valuable skill and knowledge in the long term.

7. Treat your customers and suppliers as you want them to treat you.

Just because Procurement is the Rodney Dangerfield of the corporate functions, that doesn’t mean it should be nonchalant in its dealings with the other functions. It should treat them the say way it wants to be treated.

8. Sustainability is not just important to corporate sustainability, but to our sustainability. We should leave the planet as good as we found it.

Environmental responsibility is not just a means to insure corporate sustainability by increasing the brand reputation, not just a means of insuring a continuous supply of raw materials by switching to renewable resources, and not just a means of insuring a continuous supply of fresh water and energy for production by going lean and using renewable energy, but it is a way of insuring our future and insuring that those that come after us will not only have a job they can love and look forward to, but a life they can love and look forward to. And the happiest worker is the most productive worker.

9. There is no one right way to source.

Every category is different, every product is different, every supplier is different, every market is different, and every professional is different. There is no one right way. There are conditions that make certain types of sourcing methodologies more appropriate or easier, but there is no hard and fast rule and it is up to me to work with the cross-functional way to identify a way that works best for us.

10. The ultimate goal is that, after, a sourcing event, the overall situation is better for everyone than before the event occurred.

You’re not just there to source a product or a service, but a solution to whatever problem your (internal) customer is having. Savings is good, cost avoidance is better, a new revenue source is better still, but solving their problem is what is truly priceless.