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Gary Salterpicco is a procurement expert working at John Lewis Partnership. In a recent interview, he shared his insights and thoughts on how procurement needs to evolve and change in the face of rapidly changing times and expectations.

I’ve worked in several industries and within organisations of different sizes, but there has always been a constant theme:

Procurement isn’t always welcomed universally across the business.

My conversation with Gary about this problem is fundamental if we reimagine how procurement operates in a world that isn’t slowing down for anyone.

Here are five game-changing takeaways from my interview with Gary.

Takeaway 1: Procurement needs to rebrand itself

According to Gary, procurement must rebrand itself to reflect the changing times and expectations.

While cost savings are essential, procurement must focus on:

  • Risk management
  • Building relationships
  • Bringing innovation
  • Driving the brand
  • Promoting sustainability, diversity, and human rights.

By rebranding itself, procurement can demonstrate its value to the business beyond cost savings.

Takeaway 2: Procurement needs to be audacious in its goals

Gary believes that procurement needs to be audacious in its goals and not just focus on what it knows it can deliver (namely cost reductions, although, from many conversations this year with people on the ground in vendor negotiations, this is hard to achieve in many areas).

By setting bigger goals, procurement can push itself to deliver more value to the business and make a more significant impact.

Gary suggests that procurement needs to be brave and have conversations with the broader business to understand what they need and want. Procurement teams then need to align with these needs and create a collaborative rather than siloed way of working.

Takeaway 3: Procurement needs to expand beyond its bubble

Procurement must expand beyond its bubble and converse with people in other departments and on different platforms.

While LinkedIn is an excellent network for procurement professionals, it’s essential to have conversations with people outside of Procurement to understand better what they need and want.

Gary suggests that Procurement needs to approach other teams, such as the ethics and sustainability team, and work with them to achieve joint goals.

And on this point, John Lewis has grown its ability to tackle Sustainability and ESG by creating a cross-functional working team built around the ethics and sustainability team.

This is a great example of Procurement moving away from the traditional siloed approach to working and one where they collaborate with shared goals.

Takeaway 4: Procurement needs to communicate its value

Procurement needs to do a better job of communicating its value to the broader business.

While Procurement is already doing a lot in risk management, sustainability, and supply chain visibility, it’s important to communicate this to the rest of the business.

Almost every Procurement professional I’ve interacted with has told me how they’ve had to explain what “procurement does,” and many still have that conversation every week.

By widening the conversation, Procurement can get the backing to do more and make an even more significant impact.

Takeaway 5: Procurement needs to work with internal audit

Procurement needs to work with internal audits to identify areas for improvement and pick up blind spots.

Internal audits can help procurement and the wider business identify areas where they are not doing so well and work to improve them. Procurement can also use internal audits to identify areas where it can help the wider business.

Additionally, if an internal audit calls out procurement areas for improvement, this can be a powerful method to get C-Suite backing and investment to improve the team.

If you’ve been eyeing up Procurement Tech to improve your operating processes, getting this backing based on the audit that has suggested improvements could be a great way to evidence the need for the investment.

Work closely with your internal audit teams and give them everything they need. You don’t want to shy away from the problems you’re experiencing.

Closing Thoughts

If procurement is to improve, we cannot shy away from the hard questions around our perception within the workplace and how we communicate with our business.

I see a constant theme emerging.

Those procurement teams you hear about that are crushing it daily in their organisation have all figured out what matters and have embedded themselves with their organisations.

They don’t sit on the outside, siloed, doing their own thing in the name of good procurement.

Check out the full episode here, and if you want to learn more about Gatekeeper, the Vendor and Contract Lifecycle Platform behind the Procurement Reimagined Podcast, book a call here to speak with us.

Daniel Barnes
Daniel Barnes

Daniel Barnes is a seasoned Procurement and Contract Management Leader, with a Masters in Commercial Law from the University of Southampton. He’s on a mission to transition the sector from manual, spreadsheet-driven processes to efficient, automated operations. Daniel hosts the Procurement Reimagined Podcast, exploring innovative strategies to modernise procurement and contract management, striving for a more streamlined and value-driven industry.


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