Regardless of what you think about the way in which private and public sector procurement is conducted, the ultimate objective is the same. Creating “value for money” is the most commonly used term among purchasing people.
I have spent half my life working for private sector organizations, and the other half working with various government agencies. I have come to realize that all procurement people strive to get the best deal that falls in line with the policies and procedures of the organization they work for.
Supply chain management is one of the fastest growing professions that you would ever want to be involved with. Every day is different and unique in both sectors. When I was starting out in procurement in the early 1970s, it was viewed as more of a clerical position, for the most part, a paper pusher.
Over the years, I have met some extraordinary people from every sector including construction, goods and services vendors, sub-contractors, consultants, and every possible group of people that would intersect with the purchasing function.
I want to point out that throughout all these years working in procurement, most people I have met are very hard working and dedicated to getting the best price for the companies, or government agencies that employ them.
The reason that I say public and private sector both have the same objectives is because (excluding the policies and procedures of government) it is the exact same job. Working with RFPs, RFQs and RFIs is virtually identical in every sector of procurement.
I do not ever see myself retiring from this profession, because I have never felt that this is a job, but more like a new exciting challenge to take part in every day. Most procurement people I speak with during my travels feel the same way. To be able to make a difference and be involved with so many aspects of a business, or government, is truly a wonderful opportunity.
Most columns I write each week are about the different nuances of the procurement process. I rarely, if ever, talk about the people behind the hundreds of millions of dollars in procurement decisions that are made across North America each day.
When most people talk about leadership in the working environment, they always maintain that people are the bedrock of any company. The purchasing department can potentially save a substantial amount of money that directly goes to the bottom line in relation to any other department in an organization.
In modern day organizations, the purchasing department maintains an equal role on the senior management team. With the most successful Fortune 100 companies putting as much emphasis on procurement as they historically have on the sales function.
The training programs for procurement available at colleges and universities at the present time are on par with any other professional career that a young person would consider after finishing high school. Supply chain management has more job opportunities currently than they have qualified people to fill them.
When you look at all the government and private sector purchasing jobs in Canada, it is one of the highest growing fields of employment for young people starting out. With practical experience over the years, a purchasing manager can make a very good living, and ultimately be involved with every aspect of the business operations.
In all my travels over four decades, I have rarely met anyone who went into the purchasing profession, and later decided to change to another career after they developed a solid understanding of the tremendous opportunities that the procurement field offers.
Therefore, when your son or daughter is about to finish high school and thinking of what to take after graduating, keep the purchasing option open for serious consideration.
Stephen Bauld is a government procurement expert and can be reached at [email protected]
Some of his columns may contain excerpts from The Municipal Procurement Handbook published by Butterworths.