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Procurement Perspectives: The process of change for procurement in today’s environment

Stephen Bauld
Procurement Perspectives: The process of change  for procurement in today’s environment

Process and change in procurement are inexorable features of life.

Essentially, there are three ways of dealing with progress. One may fight the process of change, be pushed along by it, or become an instrument for effecting change.

The first of these strategies is doomed to fail.

The second strategy is low risk, but hardly marks the individual as dynamic.

The third strategy no doubt entails the highest risk, but also offers the best opportunity for any individual to move into a leadership position.

Those who embrace change are the only people who over the long-term offer the potential to improve substantially the operation of any organization: to cut costs, facilitate distribution, expand markets, introduce new products and improve profits.

Only by dealing successfully with change can one open the door to continuous growth and development.

To fail to do so is to imperil the health and survival of the organization.

Change is a process of life and nature and like all aspects of nature it is impersonal and indifferent, rather than unfair. Change cannot be managed in the sense of being brought into line with some orderly step-by-step process.

Yet if it cannot be controlled, it can be influenced to a degree both by our response to it and by the avoidance of unnecessary risk.

However, even with the greatest care, some adverse change will happen. Paradoxically, once even the most adverse change has occurred, the individual then secures a considerable degree of control.

In today’s world, it is more necessary to be able to respond proactively towards change than ever.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the pace of change within the world has steadily increased; a process sometimes labelled “creative destruction.”

Both the products that we make and the services that we provide are in continuous evolution, as is the manner of delivery.

Modern business faces such intense competitive pressure that any company that fails to keep pace for even a few months, runs the risk of never being able to catch up again with its competitors.

In the computer industry for instance product life is now measured in weeks and months rather than years, as evolving technology rapidly eclipses each new model that comes along.

Within the space of a single lifetime, I have seen whole industries and technologies come and go.

The change process has capability (including problem solving) and moral as well as technical implications. A process of continuous improvement implies steadily rising standards as society outgrows what is previously considered acceptable.

A society that has abandoned a desire to improve and to overcome the challenges against it has already embraced failure as its eventual destiny. Problems will never get easier if one fails to improve.

The immediate pressures that push in on an individual or organization cannot be allowed to displace the need to pursue improvement over the medium to long-term.

At both the organizational and individual level, developing a disciplined and regular process of improvement is demanding, but is the best investment that one can make.

What an organization or individual is able to do tomorrow is governed by the preparation that takes place today.

If one does not expand and improve upon the ability to respond, then in the future it will be impossible to get beyond where one currently stands.

To get somewhere else, one must evolve into someone else. The process of improvement must be sustained.

It is not sufficient for an industry leader to respond to the dynamics of our ever-changing society.

To at least some extent, an effective leader must be capable of driving it. He or she must be identified with the forces that push the organization ahead.

He or she must be willing to implement change and to contribute new ideas to the process of change.

Stephen Bauld is a government procurement expert and can be reached at Some of his columns may contain excerpts from The Municipal Procurement Handbook published by Butterworths.

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