December 13, 2022

No, don’t call me Purchasing IS anymore…

By Patrick Chabannes

The Purchasing Function’s contribution to the business opens it up to cross-functional missions supported by a Digital Purchasing offer that has been misnamed by names such as Business Spend Management or Purchasing IS. Leads, motivation, let’s open the debate.

Over the last twenty years, Purchasing Departments have gone beyond cost reduction to focus on contributing to the business and the operational efficiency of stakeholders, making names such as Business Spend Management, Autonomous Procurement, Business Network and other Source-toPay initiatives out of step with the challenges facing the Function, internal stakeholders and the Supplier ecosystem and supply chains. 
Are we expense managers? Are we looking to be replaced by automatons with less artificial intelligence than a cat? Are we to be mere participants in a chain of rigid processes in the name of compliance and control?

“The name of the Digital Purchasing tools must represent the impact of the Purchasing Function within the entire company and its sectors.

Everyone will have noticed in the course of projects, calls for tender, studies or our conversations on the digitalization of the Function, our difficulties in possessing a common language to embrace the stakeholders? Aren’t we surprised every day not to find task management and collaboration with occasional users among the solutions presented? How much of the famous Source-to-Pay, which does not source and rarely pays, is an end-to-end process more dreamed of than real? How much Contract Management is capable of driving raw material purchases by packaging? Which Supplier Management offers a collaborative N-Tier solution? Is eSourcing a process or a purchasing project?

“*In a reality made of language, people who can name things psychologically own those things.”

Before talking about modules and functionalities, let’s define the Purchasing Function Lexicon, let’s name things without bending to the marketing of editors and the imagination of analysts. 
This common language created by the Professional Associations, with its personas, use cases and business challenges, will enable us to discuss the editors’ roadmap and support them in order to better serve the Purchasing Function for the benefit of the entire ecosystem.

“**Intelligence tends to be maintained on the level of ideas alone or on the level of facts… the Fact illuminated by an Idea and the Idea embodied in a Fact.”

As Jean Guitton urges you to do, combine concepts with practice and action with ideas. Practitioners, many of you have described the challenges and daily life of Purchasing. 
Go one step further, create reality by imposing your imagination, define the names of Digital Purchasing to impact the editor, CIO, CEO, CFO and Suppliers.

Patrick Chabannes

*Tom Robbins in Fierce Invalids from the Hot Climate
** Jean Guitton in Le travail intellectuel
Magnificent illustration can be found on Naming of things blog