Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Our profession has been around for a long time, so why is it then that we feel the need to continuously justify our position and have to fight for a seat at the top table? - When was the last time that the existence of the finance department was questioned and why is there often a disproportionate number of sales staff to purchasing when a good procurement professional will often exceed the level of contribution to the bottom line when compared with their sales colleagues?
Our history goes back a remarkably long time - one of the first books on purchasing was published in 1887 by Marshall M Kirkman (with the snappy title of “The Handling of Railway Supplies – Their Purchase and Disposition”!), and it was during the early 1900’s that purchasing began to be recognised as an independent function. Purchasing was however, up until the First World War, seen mainly as an administrative function although Harvard University offered a course in purchasing as early as 1917. Purchasing as an academic discipline was furthered with the printing of the first college textbook on the subject, authored by Howard T. Lewis, in 1931.
Thankfully some organisations do however understand the importance of effective purchasing and supply chain management and this is shown by the emergence of the CPO function with a seat at the top table and with increasing influence over the organisations direction. With many organisations spending more then half of their turnover with external suppliers the C