The principle of a North/South divide has been around for as long as mankind has organized itself into societies. It is a term often used within politics to define the ‘North of the country from the South’. It doesn’t matter if you are referening to the USA, UK, or India, the statement is still applicable. It works on the principle things may be considered different between two groups, thereby creating a barrier to collaboration.
The key to the model is achieving the right perspective. For example, we may embrace a North/South divide within our countries yet still passionate about being part of the same country. Overcoming the divide requires a common agenda, one that everyone can get behind regardless of which side of the divide they are from.
Let’s now apply the North/South principle to Procurement and Suppliers. From a distance the external viewer sees two entites working on a common contract, but in reality, the two groups are divided.
Procurement might view suppliers as a commodity to be exploited, kept at arms length and not trusted. Suppliers may view procurement as a Lion views prey, without charity or remorse . The issue comes to a peak when - in order to get to a commonly agreed outcome (a contract) - these two groups have to work together.
However just like our north/south example earlier, Procurement and Suppliers are also part of something much bigger: the business. It matters not if you are in the Public or Private Sector, the business needs these two groups to work together in order to succeed.
Technology on the other hand, functions without built in cultural barriers. As it is adopted into Procurement processes it bypasses the traditional Procurement/Supplier divide, enabling the business to focus on collaboration. Why is it that so many procurement IT projects receive Board approval? Maybe its because the rest of the business is tired of seeing the procurement/supplier divide holding back its success.
The next time you consider the other party (Procurement or Supplier) try to focus on the common agenda, mutually successful business. Not only could it create new rewards for your organization, open up new avenues for relationships and collaboration, it might also just help to justify keeping procurement as an activity that still requires people!