At first glance, procurement might appear as a technical concept, signifying a systematic and ongoing activity to deliver goods, services, or work from a supplier (often via a tendering or bidding process) to a customer for an agreed-upon price.
However, what may surprise you is that this seemingly mundane, routine, and bureaucratic operation is a robust foundation for implementing organizational values that aspire to foster positive change. Before delving into the standard criteria of price, quantity, quality, timing, and supplier, there are several value-related pitfalls and challenges to navigate to ensure a transparent and diversified procurement process.
Here are some insights that can guide you on your journey toward success:
Environmental Responsibility: When procuring goods and services, strive to prioritize multi-purpose, high-quality products that underscore durability and longevity. Doing so can minimize your environmental footprint and message your employees about the organization's unwavering commitment to promoting sustainability.
Innovative Resource Management: Establish a team of experts to identify potential waste within your organization as possible future resources. This approach, exemplified by Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer goods firm, can transform waste into valuable assets, leading to substantial cost savings. P&G's model showcases how materials can be recycled and repurposed, ultimately demonstrating that the world's abundance can be harnessed wisely.
Embrace Diversity: Moving beyond passive procurement practices, organizations aiming to create diverse and inclusive workplaces should recognize that while we are all equal, we possess unique attributes. Adjustments should be made to encourage supplier diversity, considering social criteria such as employing underrepresented groups and supporting small, medium-sized, peripheral, and remote businesses. The guiding values here are "together we are one" and "adding value to humanity."
Integrity and Transparency: Uphold the principles of honesty by providing information directly, transparently, and authentically. This fosters trust among suppliers and customers, and pure intention gives rise to pure thoughts and actions, ultimately yielding optimal results.
Leverage Relationships: Acknowledge that procurement is a frequently recurring function within an organization. Leverage established business relationships to reduce operational costs, such as obtaining concentrated discounts or agreements for various services. This includes areas like pension fund management fees, cultural events, dining, and resorts.
The Power of Positive Communication: While focusing on cost reduction for profitability is natural, remember that we are dealing with human interactions, not mere transactions. Frame discussions regarding what is available, focusing on positivity and constructive language. This approach builds trust and fosters long-term mutual success.
The examples above vividly demonstrate that procurement and values are not opposing forces but coexist and complement each other remarkably well. In essence, doing good aligns harmoniously with good business practices.
In the words of Immanuel Kant,
"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means."