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What makes services procurement different?

The unique challenges in services procurement and how best to create an opportunity for services procurement to add strategic value.

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 98 minutes

With Helen Mackenzie from Procurious

00:00:00 - Starting out in procurement, procurious and crowd-sourcing confidence
00:06:35 - The differences between the management of goods and services
00:11:45 - Human relationships in procurement & supplier management
00:27:30 - Benchmarking, templates and managing risk in shaping requirements
00:41:00 - Planning for and reviewing outcomes in the right way
00:55:45 - Current global influences on services procurement
01:06:00 - The relationship between finance and procurement
01:11:28 - Skills and characteristics of a services procurement practitioner
01:16:40 - Proliferating services procurement best practice

Transcript


Jonny Dunning [00:02
]: Okay, we're off. Welcome, Helen McKenzie from Procurious. How are you?


Helen Mackenzie [00:07]:
Am great. How are you today?


Jonny Dunning [00:10]:
Very good. Thank you very much. So before we get into the topics all around what makes services procurement different and how best services procurement can be managed? What I'd really like to do is just go into a little bit of background on your journey in the industry, and how you got to where you are now and why you do what you do? And I'll pronounce it correctly this time. Procurious.


Helen Mackenzie [00:37]:
Okay yeah. The fact that…Well, it was something that I was good at math. So when I came out of university, I became an accountant, which is what a lot of people did at that time. But it didn't really fulfill my, you know, my first to have an impact in the business. So I worked in the public sector, so I got the opportunity to go to policy. I did that for a few years and then I got the chance to go back to financial service and get promotions. So I thought well right well I'll go back there. And I was responsible for everything apart from the accountants. So payroll, tax collection, benefits processing, and so on. The opportunity arose to take the lead for procurement. And I grabbed it because procurement is for me the intersection between policy and delivery you know through our third-party spend and really gave me the chance to get my hands on the ability to make an impact through what we did with suppliers. So did that, I obviously did that for 10 years. Did quite a lot of work at the national level in Scotland with colleagues around local government, around central government procurement policy, and so on and got the chance to make a change and decided to do that and see what else I could do.


And I got the opportunity to come and work at Procurious. Procurious been an online network for procurement supply chain where we do a lot of work through our platform and through some of the other things that we do to connect to people, to share ideas, share good practice, and so on. And I just love that. I love the fact that procurement can be involved in sustainability. So whether you're thinking green or you're thinking ethical sourcing, or you're thinking local suppliers, procurement could be there, procurement can be there making sure the business gets the very best deal we possibly can for the money you've got. Procurement could be there in terms of finding innovation within the supply chain, within suppliers, bringing that to the business. So, you know, it's really fascinating and the ability to make an impact, all sorts of areas is there. And that's one of the reasons why I love procurement. The other reason I love procurement is because we're such a great community. We love helping each other collaborating and you know, no better place than procures to do that. So that's where I am now. So that's me and procurement just something I love because it's just so impactful.


Jonny Dunning [03:22]:
Well you give a wonderful description there. And I think it's really interesting when you bring up phrases like sustainability and innovation and how procurement can make such a positive impact in those areas because these things are becoming so much more important at the moment. So just in terms of how Procurious operates just give me a little bit more background about how the community actually kind of knits together.


Helen Mackenzie [03:47]:
Okay. Well, we've got an online platform so that's where Procurious sits in terms of the world. And it's free to join anybody who's interested in procurement supply chain can become a member. So it could be that you're somebody who works in procurement or you're somebody like your good selves who supply services that support procurement. So anybody can join that. We share a lot of ideas so we have a blog five days a week. We have webinars, we have podcasts. And we also within the UK have a round table program which is a corporate membership program which I'm heavily involved in where we support CPOs and their teams to develop, improve and connect. One of the big things that Procurious is; is a network, it's a community. So we have places on the platform where people can ask questions, can share ideas and you know, that collaboration around what we would call crowdsourcing confidence comes from that holy thought that you know, together we can do so much more than we can do on our own.


And as Tanya found, Tanya Syria found would say you know it can be a very lonely place if you're somebody who's beavering away on a category on your own in a company, in procurement with no bigger team around you or no peers to ask. And that's where Procurious comes in. It connects those people that are operating on their own to other colleagues in that category are in the space that can help them and support them and help them deliver for the business. So that's how we work, and yeah the round table program is the bit that I work on that support CPOs and their teams. And that's a sort of paid membership program that we've been delivering for a number of years now. And it's a fantastic space for you to know great thinking, great thoughts. I would say that thinking, great thoughts, connecting, networking and, and you know just chewing over ideas and seeing how they might fit within procurement.


Jonny Dunning [05:58
]: Brilliant, I think you make a very valid point about people potentially feeling isolated in some cases you know we see a lot of procurement setups that we see run very, very lean. And I think you know the importance of procurement within the organization has taken a step up in importance with some of the stuff going on in the market at the moment but it's in a lot of cases it does still seem to be very lean where people are you know under heavy burden of work. And maybe don't have that many peers around them in a similar category for example. I mean, you know coming on to some of the topics we were going to discuss today obviously when you look at services procurement specifically you know we're kind of addressing how that's different to dealing with other categories. And I think sometimes you can find, people may even be isolated within a particular category if it's a larger organization. And but we'd be interested to get your thoughts in terms of the differences that you see in the market when it comes to the ways that goods and services are managed by procurement in the sense that you know in some ways goods are more simple. But there are other issues on that side whereas services are harder to measure and define. What's your kind of experience of what you see in the market?


 Helen Mackenzie [07:18]: Well I mean I think goods procurement in a sense is…it can be a lot more straightforward at the sourcing end. You know. If you know what you want, if you're sourcing a part for a machine or if you're sourcing a particular materials for packaging that you make for the product that your company produces, then you know, it's fairly straightforward in terms of what you're looking for there. Obviously, you can have some creativity around the size of that, but then that's much more about fulfillment and supply chain and making sure things are where they need to be when you need them. What I found and so in my experience in government procurement you know, we had a lot of collaborative buying that went on for goods because you know a bin that you would put your rubbish in that you would use where you live is probably the same as a bin that I use where I live.


It might be a different color. So actually it makes sense to standardize the specification and to buy the same bin. And often, often across organizations, you can do a lot of that consolidation of spend of trying to bring things together. Supplies are a bit different because services are a bit different because obviously, it's not necessarily always that straightforward to buy services. So I suppose if you're buying a transactional service like a call center then you know you might say what I want the phone answered after so many rings, etc, etc but customer satisfaction, customer service are lot more difficult to measure and to source than you know, a part of a certain size that fits a certain piece of machinery. So you know you're often looking at what good looks like, what quality looks like, and what sort of outcome you're trying to achieve from that.


And back to my example of a call center, you know I might ring up because my electricity is off and I might want to find out what's happening. Now the person at the call center can't turn the electricity back on for me, but they can deliver a very good customer service at the end of it I come out feeling well-served and that's, I suppose the devil's in the detail around quality, but I could be a very transactional call center that doesn't treat the customer particularly well. That's very mechanistic or very standardized about what people can say, and the customer then comes away feeling rubbish and goes onto Twitter and tweets about it. So you've got something around quality there in services that is different. And, you know, we, a lot of things that we did in my previous experience was to go to the market for outputs or outcomes.


So, you know, what's the outcome we're trying to achieve from this service? Well, if it was a service for a vulnerable young person you know, the outcome is that person that young person's mental health being improved. Now, that's quite a difficult thing to specify and to measure. But that services procurement compared to I don't know, buying that young person or a train ticket to go somewhere, you know, which is, which is more on that. So, so yeah, I mean, that's around about way of, of talking about the differences, but I think quality the human interaction and that sort of thing does come into services much more than goods and, you know, can have catalogs for goods as well. And things like that. You just, the warm catalogs. And as I say it's, it's a bit more transactional and aware where procurement thought comes in there is, is making sure stuff gets where it needs to go.


 Jonny Dunning [11:24]: Yeah. So, so, so I guess it's more of a logistical effort on the good side to a certain extent, whereas the services, you know that does need to be some thought put into it because it, they're generally more difficult to define. They're not going to be standardized as you would get with a goods type catalog. And it's harder to measure because its more nuanced. 


Helen Mackenzie [12:45]:
Absolutely.


Jonny Dunning [112:46]:
And one of the things that comes up a lot is where the buying decisions, things like services are basically kind of thrust upon procurement to a certain extent. For example, if you know there's a particular company that has a very good C-suite relationship and it's just a done deal when they're going to be delivering X project. How do you see that impact people within the procurement community?


 Helen Mackenzie[12:14]:
Well, you know, that can be quite frustrating, I mean that's something that we, you know, I've come across in my career where you've, you know, you've done a lot of work around compliance around policy around how you might source things around a competitive process that demonstrates value. And then, you know, somebody met somebody at a conference or somebody pitched an idea to somebody and they've liked it. And that sort of process then goes out the window because the human relationship, as you say, has been formed. So I think what, you know, one of the challenges for procurement then is about, well, how do you take that forward then recognizing that you can't stamp your feet and tell the chief executive that they can't have the consultancy from that company because that with relationships there and, you know because they wouldn't look at you as if to say what on earth are you doing?: So I think, you know then when we come in as procurement to say, okay, well, we've got this relationship, we're going to do this deal. 


So how can we, from the business's point, if you understand what good looks like, understand the outcome we're trying to achieve from this relationship, think about how we might measure success. Think about you know, whether we've got the right safeguards around risks. So it might be about indemnity insurance or a contract or things like that. Do we understand the fee? What we're going to pay these people for? Do we understand how that's going to work? And when the fee, you know, when the payments are going to be made. So there's quite a lot of structure you can put around that. And sometimes you can, you know, you can even do that by working with the provider. So in a sense, it becomes then a two-way relationship that, that sort of idea, that there's a partnership with the supplier or the consultants to say, to work with them, to say, you know, what does good look like from your point of view? So then you're both bought into the same process, the same set of metrics within the contract. And do you understand what good performance looks like and what delivering for the business looks like? So, you know, that does help. I think where things don't go according to plan or where what you thought you would get when you entered into the relationship, doesn't actually transpire at the end.


If you've thought this through at the beginning then it may be that you come to, you know, the contract allows you the consultancy company to come to an agreement about what the payment would be. If there hasn't been a successful outcome to the project and, you know, it's as good for them as it is for you, because, you know, quite often people don't talk in positive terms about consultants that they come in and they do pieces of work. They're quite mechanistic about it, they might have some sort of template report that they might use or process that they might go through. And if both sides are very clear, you know what they're trying to achieve and what success looks like at the beginning, then it safeguards them as well because at the end of it you say well no they did. They delivered what we asked for. We both agreed on what that would look like. And, you know that's been great news for the business as well as for the consultants. So, you know, these are the things we can add, whereas, you know handshake in a boardroom and nothing, no structure around the other then we'll give you X thousand pounds for this piece of work. Doesn't help to demonstrate value and doesn't help to deliver good outcomes sometimes as well.


Jonny Dunning[16:00]:
Yeah, I guess it just kind of you know, gives procurement a logic and data-based argument on whether a supplier should be used right now, or whether a supplier should be used in the future because you're capturing, what's actually going to be delivered and you're measuring the actual outcomes. And as you say supply collaboration is massively important when you're both agreeing on wanting the same outcome. Whereas you know, a lot of the time we see situations where particularly where this is all done manually in many cases you know, there's just a mandate to work with X consultancy and then projects can run on, you know, in terms of what's being delivered. It's very hard to look back at that, but until, you know, until procurement are able to actually capture the information on what is actually required and what was actually delivered and, you know, satisfaction ratings, then you really can't build up a solid database case on which suppliers are actually doing a good job.And we see a lot of CPOs who are basically in a situation where they know how much they've spent with certain suppliers in consultancy and professional services, for example. 


But they couldn't really tell you necessarily what projects they were, whether the milestones were achieved, whether they're on time on budget because stuff's just buried. The sow might be stuck somewhere in a contract repository. Might not even have any milestones on it. So I think, you know, when you look at the measurement of services, it is more nuanced and more complicated than goods, but it can be done if you deal with simple metrics across all projects where you're looking at saying the is being defined, there were various milestones and outputs where they delivered were they delivered on time on budget, how much scope creep was there. And from a qualitative point of view with the stakeholders in the business, did they feel like they got a good service? And once you can, if you that information, then there's no reason why you can't actually do supplier comparisons. Whereas if you just look across services generally, and you don't have that information, I'll just, you just can't do supplier comparisons because every project is different and it gets quite complicated when it's too simplistic. When people look at things like, well, X consultancies day rate is cheaper than Y consultancy for a senior associate, well consultancy, why might take longer than consultants X, even if they're cheaper. And it's all of these things come into play. But at the moment, it seems like the level of detail level of information that people have is, is fairly scant in a lot of cases.


Helen Mackenzie[18:26]:
And I think what, you know, what you're talking about there, you know, back to back to procurement coming in, say after the selection process has been made and sticking some rigor around the process, it does help when you're going forward to have the conversation about what value you place on quality. You know, quality is a really important thing around services, service procurement. I think in, in the, you know, you're often paying for human expertise, human capital, and so on. So being able to understand what matters in terms of quality. So you touched on it there in terms of your metrics, is it on time and good enough is better than perfect as, as a metric? Is it you know, getting it right in terms of expertise and managing risk, a risk issue that actually wants the best quality expertise because of the risk we're trying to manage. So trying to get some thought around that, and obviously as you say some metrics around that helps you have the conversation with the stakeholder at the beginning of the process as to what the, well I'd say the characteristics of the supplier that you want to deal with. And that is about, you know the old cliché Rolls Royce and the mini or trying to think if we've got an international audience about you know, very high quality. 


A Michelin star restaurant compared to a takeaway restaurant in terms of you know, my output is I need a meal. Do I need, you know, high-end marvelous quality, or do I need it quick? And I need it now. And actually, the rest of it's not an issue. And, you know, as you say, getting some structure around those benchmarks means that when you come to look at a project, if you've got a number of people, let's say it's financial advice that you're buying. And as a business, you've used three suppliers. If you've got some structure around how you've measured to what they've done, like you've suggested, then when you come to look at the project, you can say, well, what's, what's the most important thing here? Is it time? Is it scope? Is it quality or is it cost? And so you can sort of look at that and probably look at your back catalog of suppliers and say, well, actually for this project, that's the best one to use rather than who were the last people we use. Let's just use them, who are the ones we use most often let's use them, who are the ones that the CFO has the best, the longest standing relationship with let's use them. 


You can actually make a recommendation as procurement for the one you want to select based on what's important for the organization, for that particular project that you're sourcing the service for. So, absolutely. I think that what you're saying there are very useful. And, you know if there's a way of capturing that and having a bit of corporate memory and a corporate view of everything that's happening then that sounds very useful to me in terms of moving things forward. And, you know when you look at your system your P2P system, your purchasing system, all you've really got there is I bought it off them. It cost me that, and you might have a little bit of line-item detail around that. And as you say you might be able to dig around and find the statement of work or something like that but it takes a lot of work to do that analysis. So yeah. Sounds like a good, a really good piece of advice there to try and capture some of these metrics across what you use suppliers for.


Jonny Dunning [22:11]:
Yeah. I mean, to be honest, the supply performance side of it is pretty much the Holy Grail for us. So as a very specific system for the management of services, procurement, and basically anything delivered under a statement of work, ultimately you want to go to an effective transactional model where everything's captured in the system, which most people aren't anywhere near. And then in the future, you want to go to this kind of predictive model where exactly that you can look back on suppliers and you've got all the kind of quantitative metrics around on-time on budget, how much scope creep, for example, allied to the qualitative information from stakeholders as to did they actually do a good job. And also quality. We see really interesting things where people are breaking down quality into different criteria. Exactly as you're saying of what actually is important when it comes to quality, you know, is it you know, was it timeliness or was it, is it innovation or is it sustainability or is it repeatability of the, whatever was produced by the services output? So all of these things combined to get to the point where, I mean, within our system, we are actually able to score suppliers based on specific criteria and therefore you can actually measure suppliers against each other. Whereas as I say, if you just try and do it on this kind of surface-level metrics or the zero metrics that most people have, it's just not possible.


Helen Mackenzie[23:35]:
And I think also that you, it sounds to me like having that sort of approach means that you, when you're asking your stakeholders questions around quality, about what did they achieve that you're asking it in the same way. And you know, it's a little bit like sourcing, you know, asking the suppliers to ask the question and understand how you might score them or rank them is a bit the same with satisfaction or outcome or so on. So that again, when you've got that data to do comparisons that if, you know, category manager, X has asked their stakeholders for feedback in the same way as category manager, Y then when you come to compare those two responses, even if it's the same company, you've got data there that can sit nicely in a set to give you, whereas otherwise, you know, you, somebody might do a one to five score for how good were they somebody over there might like one to eight somebody here might be free text here. And then how on earth do you consolidate that? So I think, you know, there was a lot to be said for that but to me, it also is enabling. So it's not so rigorous that it stifles the flexibility that you need for services procurement, because you know tax advice is different from investment advice is different from financial strategic, strategic financial advice, but you might be, you know, you might be buying that off a particular group of suppliers, and you want to be able to sort of set all of that in terms of satisfaction and outcomes in the same sort of way.


Jonny Dunning [25:22]:
Yeah. I mean, you know we hear it time and time again from procurement professionals that, you know, trying to find this information out at the moment is almost impossible because it ends up being a retrospective situation where someone says, we're thinking about engaging supplier X what's their past performance been like, and then the poor procurement person has to run around to stakeholders and try and jog their memory on projects that might've been a year ago where there's a very brief statement of work. There's no tracking milestones or anything like that. And I think it's, you know, the ability for companies to just be happy that they're hitting the budget services procurement, and that's all they worry about. I do think that's gone now and COVID has been a big driver in that, in the sense that, you know, you can often have this situation where it will be, where you to budget or not, where there's very little regard for what the company actually got from those services with goods. It's easy. You can say we got X thousand red widgets and 50 land rovers or whatever it might be. It's just if you can't measure that in services, then you might have a situation where people say where there mandate from the CFO is you spent 45 million last year on consultancy and services. You need to cut that to 40 million this year. Whereas actually, they could be making really intelligent decisions to say, what did that 45 million deliver for us in return and investment? 


How did that push the business forward, how that affects the bottom line even potentially whereas the CFO's response to that might be completely different from the sense they might be saying, this is working wonders for us. You spent 45 million last year. If you can get the same returns, you should be spending 60 million this year. And I just think it's all about the quality of the data, but as the old tech saying goes garbage in, garbage out, going back to your point, it very much, it's very important to be able to capture what is actually required in the first place. And I think, you know, you mentioned about, you know, getting the supplier involved and bought into the process, going back to something you said earlier, I do think it's very important for suppliers to potentially be involved in the shaping of requirements as well. Obviously, you don't want them to just run away with it and say, yeah, we're just going to do this and charge you X. But I think, you know, where there is the expertise I just want to, do you see that being something that people are actually making use of and harnessing in the market?


 Helen Mackenzie[27:39]:
I think so because I think, you know, having an approach to how you shape a requirement where you've got, you know, certainly my experience, what we, you know, what we did was we had a structure to how you might frame it. And that meant that you were considering all the elements. And you know, then that meant you weren't forgetting about, so back to my thing about time and scope and quality that by making sure you've got those elements in your aid memoir, or your structure or your template, that it means you come for everything when you're thinking about that. And I think that that is important. The other thing is the price benchmark. And we haven't really talked about it because we've been focusing on the quality side of things, but, you know there was a really good category deep dive that we had in a sister company, the faculty had last year where the expert there was talking about price benchmarking and, you know, he was talking about being able to look at what, what the consultants were proposing, the price that we're charging, looking at sources like places like glass door for rates, so that you understood that. And again, if you, if you're very structured around that, you can do all that comparison as well. So I think, I think there's, there's definitely merit in doing it that way. 


I think also from the, from the suppliers, the consultant side of the quote, particularly where you know you're not always going to very big companies, the more there's a shape to the way that we go to the market with things, you know, the more you're going to get good responses back because they used to the headings that lead, you know, that you're asking about, they used to where you talked about earlier, the sort of KPIs that you might put in place. So I think that there's definitely merit in not just being freestyle because you know the big cost for a supplier in terms of making a proposal to you is preparing a proposal. And if every time and every company and every place they're having to do it differently or completely different, it just builds overhead into the company. So there's something around that. That's quite interesting as well. Isn't there about just being a bit more organized and, you know, templates and has anybody done this sort of thing before things we get asked about, you know, in, in the discussion forums, on Procurious people are asking, well, has anybody used this consultant before, or has anybody been to the market for this type of service before? So people are, are looking for practice, good practice, other people's practice to try to standardize and shape the way they're doing things. So I think there's definitely an appetite around there. And I think that it's not to say we all have to do it in exactly the same way, but I think there's definitely merit in trying to just pull it together a little bit more less freestyle and a bit more organized about the way people think about things in terms of services.


Jonny Dunning [31:03]:
Yeah. I mean we even see this within organizations where they might do things like they might actually well first of all where they're going kind of where they're opening up access to our system, for example, to buying managers on a kind of self-serve basis, you might have procurement just basically kind of approving requirements when they come through. And so that just means procurement can check. There are certain criteria and the structuring it in the right way and that sort of thing. And then that way we see some people building up templates where you know, a project looks similar to this, it's going to have some of these things and you can use a template and kind of amend it. Obviously, it's services. There's a lot of difference between requirements, but I think the more structured it is, and the more information you have, the more value you can extract from your services. And it's a big cost for most companies. And I think also where you're trying to manage risk around the use of particular suppliers. I, that whole thing of like no one ever got fired for engaging IBM, for example, you know, companies can really miss out on innovation opportunities. We've maybe smaller agile suppliers, because if they have, if they actually had solid results, if a smaller agile supplier, someone takes a chance on them somewhere in the business, and they do a great job. If other people can be made aware of that, then that can be massively impactful on the value that's delivered to the business. But if they can't see that information, I think a lot of the time it just feels too risky.


 Helen Mackenzie [32:28]:
Yeah. And I think that's, you know, that's something that we certainly in my old job tried to do a bit more of is, is to, is to push back to the committee, you know, the department or the service that was going to the market for consultancy and to say to them, you know, what risk are you trying to manage by specifying this much experience or this much longevity of a business, or and you know, is there a different way of managing that risk? So quite an interesting service to do some restoration work on some artifacts where you know you've got somebody who done it for years in a one company setting up a new business. So if you're mechanistic about it and you say the business has got to, you know, have four sets of accounts and be this that and the other then that person's never going to get any business. And yet the expertise that, that person's got to do, the thing you need is there. So, you know, if you just mechanistically put in your four years’ worth of accounts or whatever into your requirements you don't get those new business in. 


And I think, you know, that would be something that smaller businesses do talk about. We had a Fintech founder come and speak at one of our round tables last year. And his biggest challenge for the CPOs was about the sourcing. You know, how on earth can we ever get a foot through your door to talk to you about what we're doing when you're constantly specifying and scoping things that we just could never or setting the bar in terms of you know, qualification questions or questions that would get them into the room to talk about things so high that they couldn't get anywhere near things. So I think, you know, that's the other thing to do. And we always used to say to people, any questions that they ask, what risks are you trying to manage, by asking this question, and if you don't know, well let me ask it, you know, and if you do know, is that the right way to manage that risk? So, you know, sometimes it might just be for having longer to do it. So there's a risk that you select a new supplier and really they're not up to it. But if you've got a bit longer to do it, then it's not the end of the world that you tried with the innovative new supplier. And then you've got to go back to square one with a bigger one, or what risk you're trying to manage that you're worried that the person's not got the expertise.


Well, how do you manage that? Where you can manage it in a different way, you can look at, see these of the people that are going to work on your job to see if they've got a trainer there's all sorts of ways you can do it. Other than it must be a company that's been established for 300 years and, you know, trades in the city of London or whatever. So, you know what risk, what question are you asking? What risks are you trying to manage? And can you do it in a different way that enables more, more choice or more providers? I think these are really good, strong questions to be asking. And back to your point about your corporate memory and your PR is if you've got that Intel sitting there that tells you that you've used all these people before, and here's the feedback, or here's what they're good at, and here's what they're not good at. And then that really helps as well not to keep defaulting to the one you've always, you know, the safe pair of hands, the poor old IBM, they're quite innovative. They're not the safe option but you know, I know what you mean when you say that.


Jonny Dunning [36:18]:
Yeah. yeah, it's kind of like fill in the blank with any giant organization, but yeah, I mean, I totally agree with what you're saying and it's almost like a slider between risk and innovation in that particular scenario. And I think this is again where measurement, as you say, is very important throughout the process because I think, you know, in some cases, you might look at some situations where services procurement, have got a big spend, they've got suppliers making lots of money out of the company, and it's really poorly managed. It's just lack of visibility. Then you might think that those suppliers actually wouldn't really want the kind of veil to be lifted too much on it in terms of people actually really understanding what's being delivered. But I think it's the only sustainable long-term option really. And actually, it should be beneficial for the suppliers too.


You know, if one of the big consultancies are doing a great job in finance and accounting for example but they're also just doing massive projects in marketing that they're actually not very good at compared to other suppliers, then that's not sustainable and that's going to fall apart somewhere. So you might think for the big supplier if the evidence has brought to light of what should have being delivered, it might be that the client looks at it and says, well, why are we using them for marketing services? We've got all of these other suppliers that are much better, a much cheaper in marketing services. So why are we using those guys? But by the same token if that consultancy, you're doing a great job in finance and accountancy you want that to be visible because otherwise, If you look at like, you know, Accenture and Deloitte, in a situation, you might get a situation where somebody just comes along and just go, well their hourly rate or their day rate for a senior associate is slightly cheaper, or that might be completely irrelevant because the first consultants are doing a really good job and they get it done quickly. And on time, every time where the second consultancy might be a little bit cheaper and it might look good on the surface, but actually in terms of results, it's not going to follow through in the same way.


Helen Mackenzie [38:14]:
No and I think it safeguards all suppliers, I think that regardless of their size, I don't you know, I don't think it's a tradeoff between the big established ones and the smaller ones. I think that what you get is the characteristics of the supplier, that's the right fit for the requirement, for the requirement that you're going the market to deliver for your company. So it's in a sense, not disadvantages or advantages anybody because you've done that thinking up from about who’s the best, what characteristics are the best fit. And it, you know, so as I say, I don't think it's anything for the bigger consultancy of the bigger companies to be afraid of because it's about getting the right fit and the right fit. You know, they probably nothing worse for them than getting involved in projects that where they weren't the right fit were actually the best thing for the company might have been something a bit smaller and a bit wacky and a bit innovative because actually that's not what they're good at.


So they end up, you know, treading treacle and trying to deliver a project that actually wasn't a good fit for them. So I think it benefits them as well as it benefits the other, you know, the other spectrum as far. So yes it's not an either-or think it's the right characteristics for what you need. And obviously doing the thinking about what is you need in the first place is the big thing now I think. That's the hardest thing is getting people to think about the outcome or the output really at the front end. What is it that we're actually trying to do here? And then where we come in as procurement people with our secret sauce, our magic skills is being able to put that down on paper and articulate that in terms of a scope of requirements of the specification. That's where one of our gifts come in. I mean, you know, that's one of the bits I used to love was, you know, doing all that engagement with suppliers and then going back and craft in a fantastic specification or a scope requirements for going to the market with it just encapsulated it beautifully. And, and, you know, then it was, it was great to go and do the sources. So yeah, that's where we come in as well, back to why I love procurement.


 Jonny Dunning [40:33]:
You know? So it's a very specific skill, it’s not an easy thing to do. And I think for a lot of stakeholders in buying managers, you know, they're busy, they're under a lot of pressure. They need to get stuff done and, you know, they just, I just need to do X and, you know, for procurement to gradually steer them. Okay. So how do we break that down? How do we measure that? You know, for stakeholders that can be frustrating initially but they certainly don't want to try and work it out. I do think there's a culture shift in organizations generally where more work is shifting to outsourced kind of output based deliverables generally across the globe. It's certainly something that we're seeing. And so I think people are getting more to a mindset of rather than thinking, I need five heads to sit there and be doing X they're thinking what is it the business needs to be done? And what's the most effective way for us to resource that it might be actually hiring some permits or it might be bringing in some contractors or temps, or it might be actually outsourcing it, but they need to start think, start the process by thinking about what they're going to get at the end. What is it that your business needs? I think that kind of ties in with obviously the way that you're going to measure it because you're going to measure against what the business said it needed. I just wondered what's your opinion from a supplier point of view about the kind of fair measurement of that in a sense that you've been asked to deliver something and it might be a report or a strategic something that helps put some on a strategic direction or some recommendations for example for them to go in action. What's your viewpoint on measuring that? And when in terms of actually being able to say, well we did a good job. What you choose to do with as an organization is then up to you.


 Helen Mackenzie [42:26]: But I think you know, I think that's about what you sign up to at the beginning as a supplier. I think, you know, that could, that trade-off again between cost and scope and quality, you know, comes in there. You know was the most important thing that we produced an on-time and good enough report for you because time was of the essence and you needed to get something in front of the senior management and it needed to be robust, but it needed to be, it didn't need to be perfect compared to, you know, we're really wanted deep thought in this, we didn't mind if it took nine months instead of three, because actually being able to drill down and drill down and really see the evidence for the recommendations that you're making in great detail was the most important thing we needed to do.


Obviously, that's a different metric there. So I think, you know, that is you know people need to be careful of, as a supplier as to what they sign up to because if they don't think about it in terms of, you know, what if they're not happy with it? What if it's not done by the date? What if it's not what they want? Where do we sit then and they're not paying me, are they not? So I think there's something about from a supplier side of things, being very clear at that front end as well about what is your signing up to. And I think also accepting that people won't always implementing something. I worked as a consultant on a feasibility study once which was, you know, which was an in-depth piece of work and lots of consultation with stakeholders.


We came up with a big set of proposals by in own. I was quite excited about is that, Oh my goodness, if we do any of this, and then things changed within the organization and it didn't make sense to do it. And you know, it was disappointing, they didn't do it, but it was their choice. They didn't do it. So, I mean, obviously, find a better performance clause in my contract that it had to be implemented. Either been sticking around, kicking doors down and saying, why aren't you implementing it? What's the problem here? But you know sometimes it might just not be, you know, seeing what was possible and how it could be implemented makes people think that actually, that's not quite the right way to go. So I think… [44:53 cross talking].


 Jonny Dunning [44:53]:
Do you think it's, do you think it's maybe a question of outputs versus outcomes?


 Helen Mackenzie [45:00]:
Yeah, I think you could be right there actually. Yeah.


 Jonny Dunning [45:04]:
In the sense that you can, you can deliver outputs that you're asked to deliver, but you can't guarantee the outcome if the controller that sits within the organization that you deliver the outputs for?


Helen Mackenzie [45:15]:
Yeah, I think so. And I think, you know, particularly around public services, back to my example of a young person with a young person, with mental health challenges, you know, I can be a provider that has got some fantastic forward-thinking techniques that I might use with a young person like that. And in 99 times out of a hundred that might work, but for that particular young person, it may be that something completely different is what was appropriate that we wouldn't have known about until we got there. And even though we did everything beautifully in terms of the way that we delivered it. It just wasn't the right thing for that young person and the outcome wasn't achieved. So yeah, I think you're right there. I think there's something around that. We did a big piece of a big, we had a big piece of consultancy at my last organization which identified a whole new target operating model and lots of savings.


And the consultants did a great piece of work there, but at the end of the day, the only person that could deliver the only people that could deliver that culture change, that new target operating model were chief of the set and senior leadership team. Second someone could do that for them, even though they'd got the business case, the action plan, you know, how you would go about it, they couldn't actually deliver that outcome for them. It had to be the people in the organization that did that and, you know, changing, culture's quite a difficult thing as well. Isn't it? So, yeah, I think you're right there, I think, but commissioning on outcomes is quite an interesting, it's more probably in the public sector than it is in the private sector commission on outcomes. And, you know, people feel more empowered to be involved in the democratic process. That's a nice outcome, isn't it, of how you might go about making me feel that compared to you feel that's completely different. So you know, these are quite interesting pieces of procurement, but whether it actually works at the end is sometimes is a little bit down to the person looking at it.


Jonny Dunning [47:30]:
Yeah, exactly. And it kind of comes back to the quality side of things as well, in the sense that, you know, you can only expect from your supplier what you've asked of them. And it has to be something that's a reasonable ask that they have agreed to at the point of contract award. And if you can then measure whether they have delivered what you asked of them, deliver a course or something like that on time on budget with no scope creep, you can't really criticize that, but then you get the quality elements come into it. Whereas you say, there may be extenuating circumstances. That means that the outcomes weren't necessarily what the company thought they might be. But actually, the stakeholders might say the supplier did a great job. There were circumstances outside of their control that affected the end result, but they delivered what we asked them to deliver what they agreed to. And they did it in a really, really satisfactory way. So actually the end result is completely separate to how well they perform.


 Helen Mackenzie [48:30]: Or we wouldn't have even known about the end result if it hadn't been for the great work that the supplier did. You know, the supply did a great piece of work. It may just sink differently. And, you know, unfortunately, if thinking differently was to go to a totally different, totally different route than you thought, but if we hadn't had the supplies there in the first place we didn't ever we'd have never known. I think, you know, I wonder the interesting sort of pieces around service services procurement, is that how much should, you know that whole thing about quality and how much you'll prepare to pay for an extra point of quality. Right. And what that actually means. So, you know, back to, I don't know a piece of financial advice and you know, whether you want to model for so many years or whether you want, you know a statistical technique issues that's very sophisticated or, you know, am I really, is that really what I want to pay for? 


It's quite a useful piece of work to do at the beginning and that what the characteristics of the supplier wants to deal with for this particular piece of work are really important. And I think when you've done that, then it's a lot clearer when you come to look for outcomes or outputs even about what it was you were expecting of them in the first place. And again doing that means that if you could use a slightly different type of supplier, the smallest supplier, the more local supplier, the more the start-up's supplier, because actually, that's the type of the characteristics of the supply that you want for this particular piece of work. So that's, you know, that's one of the really interesting bits around services given I think is, is trying to think about their characteristics before you get there.


 Jonny Dunning[50:27]:
It comes back to exactly what you said at the beginning of our conversation where you're saying it's this upfront portion of it is so important you can.


 Helen Mackenzie [50:36]:
Never say, sorry.


Jonny Dunning [50:39]:
I was just going to say; you can never say whether someone did it, you know, whether you got a good result if you don't know what you were after in the first place,


Helen Mackenzie [50:46]:
And it's that adage about 90% planning, 10% doing, I think, is really, really pertinent for services procurement isn't it? Because you do about thinking up from then delivery is a lot, you know, the delivery phases so much, so much easier.


Jonny Dunning [51:02]:
Yeah. And I think, you know, w we tend to see when you look at it from a system point of view is when people are using a system. For example, if stakeholders are, you know, putting a requirement in it means that they can self-serve they can do it really quickly and easily and they can put that in but then procurement can say, okay, well, this needs to look more like X or Y throughout that process, the stakeholders are being educated, but also procurement is spending their time doing the stuff that really requires the skills that procurement have to make this process work by making it right at the outset. Whereas, you know, a lot of the time all we see is procurement. People just completely swamped in, you know, working through 40 SOW in a day that basically just there and they've just got to get them processed effectively. So they're not even transacting effectively. And at that stage, they can't really apply expertise and it must be incredibly frustrating which is obviously where if you bring in more automation and things like that, then it does allow procurement to work on a more strategic level.


Helen Mackenzie [52:05
]: Yeah, and I think you know, yeah, don't never underestimate how an empowered stakeholder. So the person, the person that wants the piece of the service in the first place, you know, what we found was the people we worked with a lot and worked through a structured process with the law became better and better at the front end, at the thinking of coming to us with something that instead of being half baked with three quarters baked or being nearly baked and just needed us to QA or read it, or just so, you know, you're not some, you know, that sort of educating them sounds a little bit concerned a little bit sort of patronizing but actually it's empowering them to do the bit that they need to do because, at the end of the day, procurement doesn't know, you know, what they need better than they do. So it's empowering them to articulate that in a way that makes sense for then us to add the value on the [53:10 inaudible] say then you're not caught. Even if you have got 50 that come in all at the same time, 50 from the stakeholders that you've worked with to understand the process that giving you great quality raw material to work with, if you know what I mean is so much easier than 50, where you're like, isn't it health it's missing and none of it's there and what they put this for. And, Oh my goodness. And I've got to go right to it again.


Jonny Dunning [53:35]:
Yeah. You don't having to unwind the whole process.


 Helen Mackenzie[53:39]:
No and as she says automation can come in then and there's a lot of, there's a lot of things that things like smart contracts and things like that can come in. If again, your stakeholder is empowered to do that. And then you do as a procurement post personnel, are that sort of value-add quality and on the top, or even things like just challenging going back and pushing back on the stake and asking them, do they really need it in the first place or the thought for a different way of doing this? Did they know that somebody else in the business does that? Could they use them instead? So that's the other side where we can then get involved because we're not just putting it through the sausage machine and just trying to get these things out and through and dominant home at night sort of thing.


Jonny Dunning [54:21]:
Yeah. And I think in that way, you know, from a stakeholder's perspective, they can see procurement as an ally, rather than, In some cases, people might see procurement as a blocker in a sense of you know, you've told me I've done it all wrong. Well, actually procurement are here to help you get it right in the first place. And actually, procurement are here to help you get the best outcome. And if you get the best outcome you're going to look good and your, what you're trying to achieve will be furthered. And that's the massive strategic importance of procurement within that process. I think a lot of that can get lost particularly in services, just because it's more complex because it's more nuanced and it needs a level of change in maturity within the way that people work with their procurement teams, the power given to procurement within the organization or the remit course the use of technology and automation and things like that obviously is going to help that mature.


Jonny Dunning [55:15]:
But it's pretty amazing when you look at the amount of money that's spent on services annually how kind of basic that is within most organizations. But again, that's a function of the fact that it's hard to measure services, and where you look at for example procure to pay systems they're very geared towards top-level processes. And also they're very geared towards goods catalogs that sort of thing which worked very well via those existing systems. I'm just interested to get your opinion on some of the stuff we're seeing in the market at the moment. Okay. So there are obviously massive things going on globally. How do you see what's happening at the moment with the global economic situation and the pandemic and the kind of likely fallout from that over the next few years, how do you see that affecting the use of outsource services and the way that services are procured?


Helen Mackenzie [56:10]:
Ooh, that's interesting. I'm not sure to be quite honest. I think, you know, on the one hand, you could say that you think that near sourcing is going to become more prevalent. But on the other hand, we did a webinar with Everest group who were talking about outsource services and they, the experience to their clients was that the outsource service, particularly a lot of services delivered out of India for English speaking services that actually those organizations had, you know, done very well. They'd stepped up in terms of this is continuity work from home and really, really delivered the goods. So in a sense, I don't know, I think there's going to be, I hear a lot of people taking things back in the house, to be honest. That might just be the people I speak to, but I hear a lot of people wanting to bring some of them, and you know that's because things change.


So something like marketing in two years ago, you know, marketing, advertising creative you know, advertising was a great way to get the message across, etc. You know, now marketing and that is more about lead gen and sort of much more, much further down the sales than it used to be. So the way you, what you need to buy to deliver your business objectives has changed. So in a sense where you're buying it from has changed in terms of outsource services. I mean you might be better positioned to answer this than me but, you know, with more automation for systems you know, if you think about P2P for instance the better we get at doing things electronically the more the business can self-serve in the sense it doesn't need to outsource it because actually, the system is doing a lot of it for you. So you know perhaps you don't need to have big transactional processing centers in places because, you know, that's just not the way we do things anymore. 


So I don't really know. I think it, I think you can, I think for goods and commodities, it's different, but for services, I'm not sure. I think there are things like cybersecurity around who you're aligned with. So are people in countries where, you know, that they're going to still be on the friend's list for the country that you're trading from next week. It probably bigger questions. So you know, there's obviously nuances around the world around who we're friends with and who we're not friends with in terms of geopolitics that might be more bigger drivers plus cyber as well, you know, cybersecurity and issue there. Are you more likely to suffer an attack from an outsource service in a particular region where some of the sort of infrastructure stuff around cyber is not as robust as it might be elsewhere, might be bigger drivers perhaps than you know, it being just across the way where the person is based? I see, you know, there used to be a thing about accents and understandability particularly in English speaking services, but I, I'm not so sure about such a big issue, but I'm no category expert on this, but that's, that's my,


Jonny Dunning [01:00:04]:
Yeah, it's very interesting. I think, you know, maybe outsource services is probably too is the wrong definition from my point of view in the sense that I think if you look at the procurement of services whether it's consulting professional services or an outsource services like a call center or something like that but encompassing all of that, we're seeing a global increase or shift towards basically taking a problem and getting someone else to solve it rather than it's basically moving away from kind of staffing to the permanent employee base has generally been kind of shrinking, you know, 60 years ago, it was a job for life. And now we're in the world of the key economy thing very important. But, but I think one of the key things that we're seeing is it's all about results. So when you have something like COVID putting massive cost pressures on organizations, then they're going to say, well, we spent 80 million on consulting last year. What are we actually getting for it? And again, it comes back to the, what I was talking about, the drivers of ROI, you know, should we be spending less or should we be spending more to get more benefit? 


So we're seeing an increasing focus on people saying, hang on a minute, what am I getting for this money? What did we actually, you have to start breaking that down and being able to tell me actually, what did we get? And the other thing that we're seeing is the measurement of deliverables becoming more important, partly because there's just been a massive increase in remote work delivery and work being packaged up and outsource to a service provider of some kind. So it's a lot easier to do that against a fixed deliverable than it is in any kind of time and materials setting. Particularly when you look remotely if you've got a team in another country working on something, you know what you're going to do, put screen trackers on them or you know, if you're actually basing it on what's being delivered, then other stuff like that's tied into remote work is more academic. But we're generally seeing yeah an increased reliance on getting work done on a project basis and outsource project basis and an increased need for scrutiny on of that spending and the kind of results.


Helen Mackenzie[01:02:26]:
And I think that you know, in a sense some of that and I think that shifted deliverables in a sense is potentially shifting the risk a little bit more over to the supplier. So if I had a traditional sort of consultancy contract where I quoted you, you know, 40 hours, and here's my team and this many hours for this person, and, you know, like you used to sort of have a, you'll have rates of who was going to do what, and that's what you pay you, don't, you know, I got my 40 hours and this is what it actually took me 50 hours. So I'm going to charge you for 50 is a bit different from saying, well, he is a sum of money, deliver that for me, where obviously they're going to make their best estimate as to how many personnel that's going to take to deliver that. But actually, if it takes a bit more, then they're the ones bearing the cost. Obviously, if it takes a bit less, they're the ones. So the risks around that, so it's a little bit more with the supplier, perhaps with the deliverable, the deliverable focus. So your pricing might go up just a little bit, perhaps if you've move that way. I don't know. You've seen that at all.


Jonny Dunning [01:03:35]:
Yeah. I mean, what we generally say is if that's the case, then the client is willing to accept a price that reflects the risk and the sense that they can make a real kind of logical decision around whether that's acceptable for them. Yeah. I think from the supply point of view, it’s of course, it's kind of swings and roundabouts, but for some suppliers, if they can be extremely efficient about it, then great, they're going to be extremely profitable. And the company is going to be very happy because they got exactly what they wanted or more for the price that they agreed in the first place. So I think it's a shift of risk, but personally, I believe we're going to see more of, and, you know, there are lots of suppliers out there it's a competitive market. If people can actually harness that effectively within services, by writing better requirements, running proper RFP processes, rather than just doing direct awards and handing stuff out because of relationships, then those suppliers that really do a good job, will just, you know, from a kind of natural selection point of view, they will, they will kind of rise to the top as being the best, best suppliers for that organization.


Helen Mackenzie [01:04:43]:
And there's a bit of a sort of geographic democratization the process then so that you are able to pick a supplier, particularly with a lot of people doing business. Like we are just now that you can broaden the scope of who you can choose from, because you're not having to have somebody who's going to come and put their bum on the seat next to you in the corporate offices for weeks and weeks and weeks, because you can, you know, we're all working from home and you can do it that way. So that helps as well I think in terms of bringing lots of different perspectives, and as you say that the good quality suppliers into the mix for more requirements than you thought. So actually you know, your big piece of work, if you're, if you're managing that category just now is to get in with senior leaders in the business, use all your powers of persuasion or storytelling to paint the picture to senior leadership that actually having some selection processes for suppliers in this area going forward, having a little bit more competition perhaps is a great thing to be doing just now, because actually there is the ability to just think differently. And if the incumbent or the one you've always used still wins well, great. You've been to them, you know, that they're still pretty good and they're still a great fit for your organization. So yeah, perhaps that's what we need to be getting our procurement colleagues doing now in services is, is just getting a little bit of doing a little bit of influencing and, and storytelling just now to, to get that, to get those thoughts in the great, great minds when the consultancy requirements come up.


Jonny Dunning [01:06:27]:
You think most CFOs would love that, you know, you think they'd welcome that. How do you see the kind of balance of power sitting when you look across finance and procurement?


Helen Mackenzie [01:06:38]:
Well, I mean, I do think finance have, I would suggest that the power still most procurement people work for the CFO. So they're the boss. I think that and just organizationally, you know, the financial function is a powerful driver. I think that the conversation about risk is a lot more front and center than it used to be. I mean not that any people didn't think about risk, but I think that there was that tradeoff between cost and risk is a little bit more front and center now, just because, you know, people had there was talk about, you know, the whole industrial model and just in time inventory and manufacturing processes and see with that's directs, and that's not services, but the whole ethos around sort of doing it as cost-effectively as you possibly could. You know, when it came to the pandemic and some of these, these arrangements were found wanting, I think that the tradeoff between risk and costs is much more front and center now. So I think that, and then obviously we are in procurement where the people that talk about risk with the people that manage the risks with suppliers. 


So again, we're great people to having that conversation with the CFO around, around that side of things, and back to our outsource services offshore somewhere, you know, having great suppliers that can demonstrate business continuity, planning and resilience and so on is comfortable no matter where they are and no matter, you know, they, they might still be the cheapest, but they also might be the best provider in terms of risk as well. So, you know that's seen. I still don't think would we ever be, I don't think we'll ever be ahead of finance, to be honest, but I'm not so sure that that's what, you know, why would we want to be, I think I'm a more of a person that just wants to demonstrate, just wants to deliver value. And if that needs to be a seat, if the most logical place for that CPO to be is at the C-suite table because of the type of business that they are. So be it but if not, as long as you've got the influence and you're making the difference that doesn't really, I'm not I think it's a little bit of, can be a bit of Hooper sometimes if, you know, you want that seat at the table, well, let's just deliver value and let's just do what we need to do for the business. And if it makes sense strategically for us to be there, we'll be there.


Jonny Dunning[01:09:36]:
Well I think, yeah, I think that strategic input would a step in the right direction for a lot of procurement departments to be able to focus more on that, that actually, you know, use all of the skills that make services, procurement people great, and help them to manage these complex areas of large spend. And, you know, you talk about a seat at the table. It's about what's most effective for the business really isn't it? And that might differ in different sectors and things like that, because it has to be just a purely, really a pragmatic business conversation. If the business is spending a hundred billion a year on consultancy, they need some quality people, quality minds, and a good process addressing that. And from a procurement perspective, if you're not armed with information and real evidence then when you are having that conversation with the CFO, that of course is going to be coordinating that spend at the very, very top level. You haven't really got a leg to stand on in terms of pushing your, your opinion or you know, you're not going to be able to buy strategic advice on genuine data and information. 


So I think that's where the opportunity to increase the level of maturity of how services procurement are, how services are procured and how they're managed and how they're measured, could just put procurement in a fantastic position where, you know, against the property that some of the current arguments that happen where people just say, well, so-and-so plays golf with X or you know, we've got a great, we've always used these guys being able to present evidence just opens up all these opportunities around efficiencies, return on investment, that supply innovation that gets into a kind of a broader thought process than just being very constrained about maybe how some of the processes operates at the moment. And I was just going to ask you in terms of what makes a good services procurement person, we talked about some of the skills that they have, and then the skills that are required in that area. What's your, what's your view on where the real value is in terms of what services procurement people can deliver to their organization outside of the, just the kind of, you know, administrative processing type tasks that a lot of people get faced with at the moment?


Helen Mackenzie[01:11:58]:
Well, I mean, I think we've talked about it quite a lot in this discussion haven't we, so the real value is being able to listen, interpret, and then articulate what it is that our stakeholders, our colleagues in the department are actually trying to buy here. So that's, you know, that's, I think a key skill there has been able to express that so that you can go to the market with, with something that makes sense, and then leads onto all the things you talked about, about measuring and managing the contract and all of that. And I think that the other thing is bringing a critical or different eye to something that isn't afraid to challenge. So we talked about do we really need to buy this in the first place because somebody else has already bought it or somebody else does it, that side of things, and then through to the contract management side of things.


So is this actually delivering for you as we thought it was going to and being able to challenge around that, and also that, are you sure that going with the thing you've already always gone with, or the solution you've always thought of is the solution that's the best fit for you now? So it can be a bit of a critical friend, and I think there's a real skill to that which we are, you know, we need lots of us are good at it, and lots of us need to keep improving it around. So it's the whole engagement with the stakeholder piece. So listening, articulating, engaging, challenging relationship thing with the state, cause that's where we bring value. And I think if people come to procurement and they know that one, we all work for the same organization, so what they want is what we want, which is what the business wants, which is business success.


You know, they're not, then that opens up a whole realm of possibilities for us in procurement to really add value. But it's that sort of people relationship thing I think is for me is the big thing. And, you know, back to what you were saying is, is that the more that we can use systems or processes or some standard things to liberate our time and our thinking processes for these, these value-add human. Things that only humans can bring to the process, then, you know that's where we sit going forward. And, you know, a lot of people say well, is there a future in procurement? Is it just all going to be automated? Well, hopefully, all the boring bits will be.


Jonny Dunning [01:14:49]:
Exactly.


Helen Mackenzie] [01:14:50]:
And leaves us to think great thoughts and engage with theirs as stakeholders in the business and come up with fantastic solutions with them to take things forward and also brilliant suppliers or brilliant relationships with suppliers to deliver the business. So that's, yeah, sort of, I feel quite excited about that going forward. I think.


Jonny Dunning [01:15:12
]: Yeah. I also love what you said about storytelling. I'm ready getting the narrative across, both internal and external stakeholders and also to your company, and also to your suppliers. And that's a very human skill. And I think, you know, from our point of view, being a procurement technology, we see the kind of the value that technology can add is taking away the stuff that should be automated and allowing procurement professionals to focus on strategic rather than just pure admin, transactional type of activities. And I think there's a real opportunity to take that forward with an increase in the focus on how services are managed and maybe companies getting a bit tighter on stuff at the moment that is just kind of flying all over the place and causing procurement people to a real headache. If there's a genuine mandate from organizations to get on top of this spend which I think there is much more. So now then that really puts the pathway in place for procurement to really elevate what they're doing as part of that process from being sometimes an afterthought sometimes left out, having to fight their corner, to be actually coordinating it and saying, this is the right path. These things are on track, here's where we can improve. And I think one of the things I wanted to kind of just come on to briefly to round things up quite nicely would be, how do you think, you know this best practice can most effectively be kind of proliferated? And I think that it kind of ties back to the community aspect.


Helen Mackenzie] [01:16:49:
Well, I mean obviously I would say am Procurious because that's what we're all about, but I think proliferated in a sense that you know, obviously we are a profession that likes benchmarking likes reports that talk about.


Jonny Dunning [01:17:15]:
Oh. I think I've lost you there, Helen. You still there.


Helen Mackenzie [01:17:19]:
Oh it's obviously.


Jonny Dunning [01:17:21]:
Ok you’re back again. Sorry, I lost you there for a sec. You were just saying about benchmarking.


Helen Mackenzie [01:17:26]:
Yeah. So benchmarking reports about best in class, best in the breed, all of that sort. So we like a bit of consultancy around that, so obviously, we'll come there. I mean we do a lot within our own, you know, within our own round table community to share experience and expertise, we have as you know, an X generation cohort of procurement team members that meet together to talk about these things. We have forums on Procurious, so I think there is something around the community to do that. And my colleagues in Australia in the faculty of our sister company do the same with their group of members. So I think there is, there is the potential for that. And it's just about; it's about working together and sharing. And I think that we, I hope as a community understands what bits of what we do are the competitive advantage for our business and what bits of the things we do that aren't just about all of us moving forward and doing things in a better way. And obviously, we've got a fantastic cohort of technology providers like yourselves that are working on different bits of the procurement process to automate them to analyze data and service up within the site and do all of that. You know, I think about the brain and the bit of the brain was called the basal ganglia. 


The bit that just does things automatically, that's what your good cells are doing in the technology community is taking more and more of what we do and putting it into the bit that just, that just works and just operates. So that the bit that's the creative bit is there, but we are a sharing Kameisha and I would just encourage people to, well obviously join, Procurious share, ask and engage with our community because we are a community that loves to share and loves to collaborate. And it does strike me and I thought coming from the public sector, we're very, very good at collaboration because we're not in competition with each other. I thought when I came over to do more work with the private sector that it wouldn't be the case there was as much collaboration but there are people really, really generous with their ideas with their templates because, at the end of the day, their competitive advantage might come from two or three deals that are fantastic and great and save the business lots of money. But you know, often it's not from some of the straightforward stuff that we can just work together on and people do share. So that's I think, yeah, definitely. I think, join, Procurious, I suppose I would say join precarious and share but or whatever community you're in.


Jonny Dunning [01:20:24]:
Let’s get it out there.


Helen Mackenzie [01:20:24]:
Just get it out there and share but yeah definitely.


Jonny Dunning [01:20:27]:
Yeah. I think there's some really exciting opportunities ahead. And as I said, I think there's a real opportunity for quite a rapid evolution of services procurement market. Obviously, you see everything across all of the procurement and we're quite focused on a specific area but I think it all ties into the conversation about the value of procurement, how best practice can be improved and people can share ideas and so, I think it's a potentially a very exciting time for people in this industry, and yeah, an opportunity to do really good work and deliver great value.


Helen Mackenzie [01:21:01]:
Absolutely, absolutely. Well and I swear a nice way to end us both.


Jonny Dunning [01:21:06]:
Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. Super interesting to hear all your thoughts and insights and anecdotes there. Thank you very much for joining me and yeah. Take care of yourself and I hope we catch up with you again soon.


 Helen Mackenzie [01:21:19]: Thanks, very much.

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