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Procurement teams must collaborate with CIOs

CIOs and forward thinking procurement leaders demand that methods become more innovative and collaborative as organisations face a Brexit disaster for business purchasing

“Procurement is one of the most common causes of delay in getting stuff done,” a leading financial services CIO told the Horizon CIO podcast WhatsApp group recently. Procurement practices need to change in large organisations and the public sector.

As customers demand digital services IT and its leaders have adopted Agile delivery, iterative product lifecycle and eco-systems of suppliers, procurement has not kept pace. As last year’s Horizon CIO Podcast revealed, there is a great deal of frustration. That frustration is not just amongst CIOs, last week forward thinking procurement leaders and technologists gathered at the National Archives in Kew for an un-conference  to discuss further the themes first aired in the Horizon CIO podcast.

“IT has moved to a series of methods, Agile, lean and Six Sigma to deliver its projects,” says mapping expert Simon Wardley. “Procurement is still a single model, no matter the type or size of project.”  Wardley warned that just as within IT there has been “Agile oversteer” with projects being made Agile where the method does not fit. “You need a toolbox of methods.”

“This is a much wider conversation than public sector and technology,” Stance-Global CIO James Findlay says. But as former CTO of National Archives and NHS Digital Rachel Murphy says: “We have to make public sector procurement better.

Picture by Matt Gore iconphotomedia CIO Summit 2015
Rachel Murphy

On the Horizon CIO podcast WhatsApp group CIOs from banking described problems of procurement process that: “Too often buy stuff that’s barely fit of purpose, but as cheap as possible”.

Another adds: “It is still anti-agility in regulated environments; crushes choices, reduces healthy competition, selection options and leads to a general acceptance of mediocrity coupled with a poor customer experience.” 

Knowledge gaps

David Kershaw, a procurement leader says there can be gaps between the commercial knowledge of IT departments and procurement teams.  Forward thinking procurement leaders embed themselves in IT teams during major transformations to share their commercial procurement knowledge and to breathe in the agility of technology. But there has been cases of procurement leaders being disciplined for breaking down barriers.

“There are many many regulations, but only a few must be known by everyone,” Kershaw says.  At the un-conference we discussed the idea of procurement teams becoming brokers in the business in much the same way as CIOs have in the adoption of cloud technology.

“We need to identify the things that Agile teams need to know about procurement,” Kershaw says. Throughout the event it was said by a number of participants that greater commercial skills were required in IT teams, in terms of their awareness of the constraints that procurement teams have to work within and the regulations that govern purchasing.

It was also identified that when technology projects are completed and success is celebrated, the procurement teams are forgotten, mainly because they have moved on. CIOs and procurement leaders agreed that procurement must be involved in success celebrations.

CIOs James Findlay (centre) and Stephen Docherty (left) discuss new procurement models

Stephen Docherty, CIO with the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust suggests that new agile procurement roles could be created and paid for by the CIO to prove the model. 

One of the most pertinent points of the un-conference was that procurement faces a burning platform. That burning platform is Brexit. If Brexit does come to pass it will drastically change the procurement and technology sourcing of all organisations.

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About Mark Chillingworth 278 Articles
Mark Chillingworth has over 20 years of journalism and editing experience across all media platforms including online, live events, print magazines and television.
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