procurement definition

One of the most common misunderstandings we face defining public procurement is this: “Procurement is when you select and buy cheaper products and services”. Some more diplomatic sources change “cheaper” into “less expensive”, thinking they do procurement profession a huge favor and bring peace and serenity into discussions.

After so many years of existence procurement profession is still in trouble explaining its meaning and purpose to wider audience. Generally, everyone has an opinion about procurement. You will barely find any other profession destined to have so many opinions.

Because procurement is a hub where so many interests cross.

To start, let us take the standard definition of procurement that Wikipedia offers and break it down into meaningful parts.

“Procurement is the acquisition of goods, services or works from an external source. It is favourable that the goods, services or works are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the acquirer in terms of quality and quantity, time, and location”

When one reads the first sentence ”Procurement is the acquisition of goods, services or works from an external source” the obvious question that comes is “So, it’s buying, right?” or “Why don’t they call it Purchasing?”. Fair enough, valid questions.

And then the second sentence “It is favourable that the goods, services or works are appropriate…” Of course, it is favourable. Otherwise, why do we spend money on inappropriate goods or services? Why did anyone even write this?

And then it goes “…and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the acquirer in terms of quality and quantity, time, and location”. Naturally, otherwise why do we need more goods or less services, delivered later or well in advance, of lower quality and higher price and in New York instead of London? It’s common sense, right?

Looking at the definition on Wikipedia, one ask,  “does this … procurement deserve to be a separate profession at all?” Whatever procurement does is so obvious and is within the framework of logic and common sense. So, why to create a buzz about it? A separate profession?

Don’t you think procurement (especially public procurement) deserves a better definition? Simpler and better.

Why not to reflect the trivial facts that procurement helps the organizations to achieve better and quicker results, in a transparent and socially responsible way and at the same time save billions of dollars? Isn’t it true?

What would you add/remove from/to the definition we currently have on Wikipedia?

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