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Book Review: A Procurement Compendium


“Because however brilliant our category strategies or engagement roadmaps, relationships still do matter, and nowhere more so than in how we interact with our critical internal stakeholders.”


Reading “A Procurement Compendium: Advice, analysis and humour for buyers (and those who sell to buyers) everywhere” by Peter Smith, former Managing Editor of Spend Matters UK/Europe, is more like having a conversation with a friend than it is absorbing a career’s worth of insights by yourself. I know Peter is fond of meeting up with colleagues at the pub to discuss procurement – or at least he did before he retired, now he probably wants to discuss anything but procurement. That said, the tone and content of this book might have been lifted right out of those conversations.

ProcurementCompendiumThe biggest take away for me is how funny Peter is. And, more surprisingly, how funny procurement is. There are a lot of things we all should be laughing about. One of the chapters, titled “Cerebral Whimsy”, is such a treat. From Santa’s supply operation to Addicted Jim to “James Pond”, you’ll come away feeling lucky that you understand all of the inside jokes.

Peter writes about procurement leadership, technology and current affairs, and he provides his best advice and observations on all those topics. While much of the content is pulled from articles he published on Spend Matters over the years, bringing it all together in this book with his honest self-reflections gives it a lot of power – especially the things he wishes he’d done differently.

Most of his regrets have to do with people. While procurement isn’t usually credited for being particularly personable function, we are absolutely in the people business. Of course, Peter starts by saying he wishes he’d fired more people, so don’t worry – it’s not all kumbaya.

But then there’s fairness: the importance of being fair in business and in procurement and in life. Whether we realize it consciously or not, each of us expects that others will be fair with us. In that spirit of fairness, Peter also takes on the tough question of whether procurement is in decline. As you can imagine, it is not an easy question to answer.

Whether you’ve been in procurement a day or a decade, you’ll take something valuable away from this book. And if you read it again later, you’ll likely discover something completely different. I personally appreciate his honesty, something we’re getting to see more and more of on social media as well. He suggests at the end of the foreward that it is even okay to leave his book in the bathroom for a few minutes of reading now and then. I’d suggest that Peter (and the book) deserve better than that, but the most important thing is that you read it.

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