World of Procurement - My world and yours

14 June 2018 By Gillian Askew, Head of Procurement

YPO World

With the exciting news of our first ever 'World of Procurement' event taking place in London on 19 September, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain what this means for you - our customers, for YPO and the public sector, and for me personally.

I’ve been working in procurement for 24 years now and have held positions in most disciplines in procurement and supply chain over the years. Having worked in both private and public sector and in different markets, I can fully appreciate the different challenges that procurement teams face and the variety of pressures that are brought to bear.

My world of procurement has at times, like I’m sure most procurement leaders have experienced, been fraught with what feels like insurmountable financial objectives and timescales that at first look, appear impossible.

It’s also been a struggle at times to juggle all the objectives procurement needs to deliver to really add value. It’s been tough getting the voice of procurement heard sometimes and inarguably, ensuring procurement is represented well in the “Boardroom” has, at times, tested my tenacity, courage and belief in our profession. Without doubt, the world of procurement can be a place that’s not for the fainthearted.

Collaborative procurement at YPO

When I came into collaborative procurement two years ago, joining YPO, I will admit that I was a little sceptical about how organisations like YPO can really help procurement teams add value (in every sense of the word) and about how an organisation with a national footprint can add value at a local level. Could we really get close enough to procurement teams and their organisations without appearing arrogant and unwieldy and could we work at a granular enough level to really make a difference for every individual customer in a way that makes sense to them? Could we, as an organisation, get past being seen as “just” an aggregator when in reality we are so much more?

Fast forward two years (where has the time gone) and when I describe my world of procurement I use adjectives like exciting, complex, high energy, rewarding and unfinished. What I mean by this is that our team of procurers here at YPO as a collective are all doing the very things that I was sceptical about our ability to do well. We’re talking to our customers as individuals as well as collectives and really getting into the ribs of what your world of procurement looks like, what keeps you awake at night, what success looks like for your team in your organisation, what you are aiming for, what’s important and crucially, what you don’t want or need from a collaborative partner.

This team of ours is working tirelessly actually to be whatever format of help and support you need which in my humble opinion, is precisely what any good partner should be doing. We aim to be part of your world of procurement, an extension of the team if you will and definitely a friend offering support.

The impact of budget squeezes

Like our customers, we too worry about the impact of budget squeezes on front line services. We worry about growing class sizes, of schools having to lose teaching staff and impending teacher shortages; we worry about social care provision and the real complexities of health and social care and the inevitable impact on blue light services. We also worry about how the rising costs of some commodities puts even more pressure on organisations and their procurement teams.

When I joined YPO I was determined that our model would be to immerse ourselves as much as possible into the heart of our customers world so that we can genuinely understand drivers, need and pressure and can articulate this well as we connect supply chains, customer and communities together.

When I joined YPO, I wanted to ensure that as a collaborative partner we developed procurements that answered actual problems and were structured so that any customer could quickly and easily access a solution or work with us to develop ones that don’t yet exist. Today my world of procurement is still in development, it’s unfinished, and we have a lot still to do before I could confidently say we are all the things we want to be but I do think we’re on the right track. That said, evolution is constant and we’re committed to the continual development of who we are, what we do and how we do it so that we can be a trusted partner now and in the future. After all, in procurement it’s both a marathon AND a sprint!

Our World of Procurement event – 19 September 2018, London

We’re running our inaugural ‘World of Procurement’ event on 19 September in London which is designed to table hot topics of the moment concerning our customers and suppliers individual ‘Worlds of Procurement’.

We’re talking about post Brexit public procurement and have Professor Sue Arrowsmith as our headline speaker on this subject, a topic that is by no means straight forward but the implications of it could be significant for public procurers.

We’re discussing all things cyber including technology innovation! Cyber Security is an incredibly hot topic just now and YPO wants to open the debate around how organisations can secure themselves properly in a world where cyber crime is a very real and constant threat.

We also recognise how research intensive category management is and we know therefore that it also takes time, one of our most precious commodities. We also recognise that many of our commercial ‘battles’ are won and lost in effective category management and so we’re hosting demonstrations of the Procurement Leaders global networking and intelligence platform that can really help lighten the workload in category management.

‘Social Value’ is becoming a priority, not just because we’re mandated by law to consider the social impact of our procurements but because procurement professionals recognise that we can deliver so much additional social value through our procurements and so we’re also joined by Net Positive Futures who host the Supplier Engagement Tool. This tool enables our supply chains to tell us what they’re doing in social value and if needed, will support and help supply chains develop and refine their activities in this area.  

We’re also running interactive sessions on Purchasing for Education which is aimed at delivering practical support for School Business Managers. We can work though real examples of where Procurement can be simplified and still add maximum value at school level.

In all cases the event helps us learn about your world more so we can develop products, services and routes to market that solve problems and add value.

We’d love to see you there. Register today!

More about me - Gillian Askew

Gill is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Procurement and Supply having been a member since 2001. She is married with a 21 year old step son and in her spare time runs a stray dog kennels and care farm with her family offering land and animal based experiences to vulnerable people.

Gill has been a school governor at Upton Primary school in Wakefield since 2016 and has recently started running an after-school gardening club for eight children to help them learn how to grow and look after their own fruit and vegetables. Gill regularly supports charities. In addition to donating monthly to 5 chosen charities which are: Refuge, NSPCC, GOSH, The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre in Nottingham and Help for Heroes, having been a Trustee of the Miscarriage Association in 2014, Gillian is now a newly signed up media volunteer for them. Gillian has also been a Switchboard Volunteer for Childline, a role she loved but due to relocation sadly couldn’t continue. In her previous role at NTU Gill was a solid advocate for how procurement could make a direct difference to student experience and the student employability agenda as well as raising awareness of the Cancer Research Centre at NTU and developing procurement enabled support for research programs.

As a passionate advocate for social value, Gill has been instrumental at YPO in developing our approach to embedding the Sustainable Development Goals in all our procurements which includes the development of our supplier volunteering program and other social value initiatives. Her kennels and farm business is currently developing a set of Employability Days designed specifically for children and young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and Care Leavers.

Categories: Procurement

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