The other day, I was explaining my job to someone and how it has changed since I first started in the business many years ago. I realized that the only things that have really changed is that we now communicate online and use Microsoft Office and other tools to create documents and presentations. To date, it seems as there has been very little substantial change made to enhance the efficiency of the project procurement process.
During my career, I have worked for a range of different companies both in and out of the oil and gas industry and have seen four downturns during my time. I have watched as cuts have been made, starting with the ‘low hanging fruit’ such as morning teas and working lunches, then expanding to more direct cost reductions such as salaries, rates and other overheads. But very little real and lasting changes were made to make the procurement process more efficient. Sure, I adapted to meet my customers’ needs and the many changing faces of business during those times, but the actual job of a Procurement Manager largely remained the same.
For me, this job is a wonderful way to get a rich life experience and learn how to deal with people, in sometimes challenging ways, from all walks of life. A large part of the role is, of course, learning the processes and systems, but the most valuable lessons come from learning how to deal with problems when they arise, how to communicate effectively, and discovering how you can properly manage these events to get the outcomes you need.
Inspiring the next generation
I am passionate about procurement, which is why I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). There are only 73 of us in Australia and about 850 worldwide, but with a global membership of around 70,000 and a community of over 200,000 professionals spread across 156 countries, CIPS is the largest professional body for procurement in the world. As a CIPS Fellow my role is to inspire the next generation, shape the future, network with my peers, raise the profile of procurement and acknowledge personal achievements, and I take that very seriously.
Any new or current systems or technologies must assist procurement professionals in becoming more efficient and valuable to their customers
However, I am concerned about the future of strategic procurement. Fewer and fewer people seem to choose it as a career, even though there is a very healthy demand for people to fill roles. Unlike many other jobs in industry that are faced with being automated out, this is not the case for strategic procurement; communication and people skills are essential. Any new or current systems or technologies must assist procurement professionals in becoming more efficient and valuable to their customers and not, as so often happens, become the driving force that eliminates strategic and sensible thinking in the process.
Making procurement professionals’ working lives easier
This is why we created Requis – an online global marketplace that brings buyers and sellers together and provides a better way to browse, procure and sell industrial materials and equipment.
As one of the people at the first whiteboard plan, I am incredibly proud of the platform we have created, just three years after the founding team got together to discuss how we can revolutionize the industrial supply chain and make procurement professionals’ working lives more efficient and easier.
Requis streamlines the sometimes manual and lengthy procurement processes and lets procurement professionals become more valuable and strategic thinkers. By streamlining and digitizing the time-consuming transactional side of procurement, Requis speeds up buyer and supplier connections, helping users reduce costs and recover investment by, for example, reselling surplus materials rather than scrapping or unnecessarily storing them. For suppliers, it enables them to list and move inventory though a more efficient process and to a wider market. For buyers, it’s about giving them access to surplus materials and supplier inventory quickly and cost effectively.
I was recently challenged to sum up Requis in three words and I chose ‘Efficient, Empowering, Intuitive’.
Efficient. Empowering. Intuitive.
I was recently challenged to sum up Requis in three words and I chose ‘Efficient, Empowering, Intuitive’. Requis is efficient because it handles the standard processes efficiently, it is empowering because it enables procurement professionals to use their wider skills to add more value, and it is intuitive because you do not need days of expensive training to understand it. It is as simple as eBay to navigate, search, buy and sell. And the Requis team are always on hand to offer support.
Requis is changing the face and pace of procurement in a positive way. I hope that its efficiency and the use of new technology will encourage more people into the exciting new world of procurement. In a world where disruptive technology is often seen negatively, I think that it can only be a good thing.