Riding the Procurement Tube
Like a heaving modern city, the procurement profession grows in complexity as the years go by. Supply chains aren’t linear anymore; they’re dense, interlocking networks. Volatility, risk, complex markets, innovation, stakeholder demands and technology all add to the intricacies of a procurement manager’s job.
An Explanation of the Procurement
and Supply Chain
This diagram, the procurement manager’s equivalent of the London Tube map, was commissioned by CIPS back in 2012 to illustrate the complexity of the industry. Created by Scott Grant and myself, this is in all likelihood the first ‘map’ of the procurement profession.
Follow a line from its source to its terminus to consider most of the strategic and operational hurdles faced when managing contemporary supply. The major stations pose general questions for most organisations; the minor stations ask specific questions relating to the project. Each line is, of course, but one aspect of a modern procurement manager’s role.
Stop off at a station along the way to consider the challenges of a specific project or an organisation in general. Some stops will be brief; others will present more complex issues, perhaps more risk, or more opportunity. Professional experience and skill are needed to prioritise the stations based on the project at hand.
Take a journey on this diagram and understand the modern procurement industry’s need to move along more proactive tracks, away from reactive measures. Spend analysis, negotiating, sourcing, contracting and price management are pillars of the industry, but nowadays it’s pivotal to move ‘upstream’ or ‘downstream’ from these stations. A successful journey on this diagram is achieved when you stop at each station, consider the topic, and devise a solution; that is the modern procurement manager’s role.
What are we missing?
Cities grow, and new lines and stations need to be added accordingly. It’s been seven years since CIPS commissioned this diagram. What’s changed in the industry since? Have you noticed something missing on our map? Maybe a particular project deserving of its own line, or a station that needs to be added. Everyone has their own thoughts on the industry, everyone has something to contribute. Maybe, like Harry Beck, your contribution will bring further clarity to an intricate, evolving system.