Brexit: Reflections of a Procurement Professional - Procurement News

In the cold light of day, and after a weekend’s reflection, a procurement professional reflects on the implications of the Brexit.

Following my pre-referendum thoughts on supply chain trade and the EU, I was looking forward to the event itself.

A severe weather occurrence, disrupted travel during a six hour journey from Guildford to Norwich, and with the Mission Impossible theme tune on repeat in my head – this was my voting experience on the 23rd June.  I made it to Norwich to vote #Remain just in time before the polling station closed.

Storm on the Horizon

The real storm was not the weather. it was the result to come in the dawn with the UK #Brexit result.

My initial, personal, reactions on June 24th were of shock, anger and fear.  The value of the £ tumbled and the FTSE100 index crashed.  The ‘Leave’ campaign ideas, clearly taken by some as Brexit ‘pledges’, are already confirmed as “mistakes” or not “realistic”.

But time, even a few short hours, is a great healer. The £ and the FTSE both recovered a little on the 24th after their initial crashes.  My optimism and positivity is also slowly returning. The UK now has a fantastic opportunity.

Staying United

The first opportunity is to stay united. “IndyRef2” is already on the table, and the Northern Irish might follow suit. I doubt if many voting to leave the EU anticipated the potential break-up of the UK. Is this really an ‘unthinkable’ now?

The focus is now on what happens next. If there’s one thing I’ve heard through all of the interviews and opinions in the past few days, is that no one really knows what the future looks like now.

No state has left the EU before. The process is set out, yet it’s not tried or tested.  We have to find a new Prime Minister, and possibly face a General Election, to appoint the team to lead the UK through this.

Procurement & Strategic Relationships

There are uncharted and uncertain waters ahead. Procurement and Procurement Professionals can shine through and add the value we’ve all talked about for years and now have the opportunity to deliver.

Keeping in close contact with strategic suppliers and working together to build certainty in existing trading relationships might be a crucial first step to steady the ship.

Businesses need to keep focus on their mission, vision and values, and make sure they are still relevant in a post EU, UK. Most will need to adapt, and Procurement needs to ideally provide, or at least proactively source, the help and guidance to do that.

Procurement must not sit back and wait any longer for the invite to the table it has been waiting decades for. At the Big Ideas Summit in April, we heard lots about Procurement being the source of talent within organisations – it’s time to step up.

I expect we’ll all be revisiting our segmentation matrices and risk maps this week for starters! We should rapidly review processes and procedures ready to make ourselves, our teams and our businesses as agile as we can, ready to adapt to the changes as they unfold.

A wiser man than me said “agility is core”.  Let’s make this work team UK.

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Chris Cliffe FCIPS MIoD

Director - CJC Procurement Ltd

Thanks for looking me up! I 'fell' into procurement like many of us did, not having heard of it before! Initially aspiring to be a British Airways pilot, the closest I got was working in the BA Recruitment team in 'the good old days'. I dabbled in Marketing, then back into Recruitment, before landing in the Civil Service at OGCbuying.Solutions (then Buying Solutions, then GPS and now CCS!). I gained MCIPS qualification in 2008 and I'm a Public Sector procurement expert, specialising in the IT Category having procured Framework Agreements and multiple contracts ranging from £6k to £6bn! Since leaving the Civil Service in 2011, I've been supporting the Social Housing sector and helping with digital transformation projects across the sector. I was honoured to be awarded a CIPS Fellowship in December 2016 and in June 2017 I was elected a full member of the Institute of Directors (IoD). Having now set up my own company offering freelance procurement and commercial consultancy, I'm keen to continue to develop as a professional through learning from you all, and hopefully helping some of you too, as well as supporting a wide variety of clients across the public and private sectors! The idea of collaborating and improving together really inspires me. Procurement can be a lonely profession at times. Through the power of technology, perhaps we can work together and make a real difference.

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