Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Procurement responsibility, accountability and L'Aquila

I do not intend to address the procurement weaknesses associated with the 2009 earthquake which led to 308 dying. However, for those unaware of ongoing story, I want to touch on the consequential sentencing yesterday of six scientists and a senior government official.  They were members of Italy's 'Great Risks Commission' and they've now been sentenced to six years imprisonment.  The seven plan to appeal but, nevertheless, two judges decided the experts had downplayed the risks of a massive earthquake.  I have no way of knowing if that was a reasonable judgement, or whether the penalty is proportionate.

Please, please don't get me wrong, I am not trivialising the L'Aquila tragedy. However, in the procurement world we have many academics, advisors and practitioners who are asked to future-gaze and make recommendations on what should be expected or providing reassurance. Sometimes the recommendations are implied predictions of savings to be achieved, sometimes of predictions of impact, sometimes predictions supply risk.  What would happen if, as procurement predictors, we were held more accountable for our predictions.  Personally, I would welcome this.  It would lead to more robust research, less over-selling, and greater focus on outcomes. It could weed out the snake oil salesmen and charlatans.

But it may also drive a better ownership of supply risk management - ownership which is clearly lacking, if we can accept KPMG's recent benchmarking report which implies that only 18% of organisations have risk management integrated into procurement for direct spend (8% for indirect spend).

Are we ready for greater accountability, or is that just one risk we are not prepared to accept?

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