The Life and Times of an Out-of-the-Box Procurement Specialist

As loyal Legal Edge readers know, from time to time we like to capture and highlight the wisdom of some of our national procurement leaders. In this first issue of 2018 it is our great pleasure to provide an overview of a presentation delivered to the BC Procurement Community of Practice event this fall by Diana Lucas. Leading and guiding diverse public procurement teams for over 25 years, Diana describes herself as “subject matter expert, advocate and custodian for public procurement”.

Diana’s presentation, entitled “Ten Maxims that Got Me Out-of-the Box” includes the following advice:

1. Always Ask ‘Why’…Towards Streamlining and Process Improvement to Benefit Your Clients

A core responsibility for procurement professionals is to always keep a weathered eye on ways to improve the process. This means staying up to date with procurement developments in other jurisdictions and other industries. Question the status quo and look for better ways to drive value.

2. Focus More on Purpose and Less on Recognition

While being recognized for a job well done is gratifying, it cannot be the reason you work in procurement. Some of the most innovative and dedicated professionals in our field remain ‘unsung heroes’ their entire career.

3. Offer Service and Solutions… the Days of Being the Policy Police Are Long Over

Diana strives to move into the role of trusted business advisor by offering her clients three choices for achieving their desired outcomes: good, better and best. This is in recognition that the role of SMEs is to provide an overview of the risks and benefits posed by various options – ultimately it is the client’s choice on how to proceed. “No” is not an option.

4. Be a Sponge: Talk Less, Listen More

Really work to understand your client’s business environment. Procurement is not a cookie-cutter process and each solicitation must be tailored to ensure it achieves the desired business outcomes. Without a deep understanding of the business, procurement professionals can only add limited value.

5. Take Risks to Create an Impact and Make a Difference

A ship is safe if it remains in harbour, but ships were meant to sail. It is only through taking calculated and well-reasoned risks that procurement professionals can lead their clients to innovation and advancement.

6. Keep Checking Your Moral Compass

Integrity and authenticity must be the calling cards of procurement professionals. Unbiased, impartial and transparent recommendations and suggested approaches will lead to better value and less challenges to the process. Aside from adherence to Ethical Codes and Standards of Conduct, procurement professionals must act as the stewards of integrity and fair dealings within their organizations.

7. Get Certification to Increase Credibility and Earning Potential

As a lifelong learner, Diana is passionate about the need for procurement professionals to stay on top of new developments, strategies and approaches that contribute to the value an organization receives from its procurement activities. Formal training and certification not only indicate that you take this obligation seriously, but that you understand there is always room for improvement.

8. Share Your Knowledge

Diana takes pride in her role mentoring young procurement professionals within the BC Government, and regularly contributes her experiences and wisdom to conferences and other procurement events. In her words, “knowledge is a powerful gift that should be shared. It lifts others up, and it helps engrain and expand what you know. Write, teach, mentor, lead – however you do it, it’s good for you and it’s good for your colleagues.”

9. Polish Everyday Life with Your Procurement Skills

“Contracts are the glue that holds society together. Every day is gem of potentials to apply and expand your skills, such as refusing to pay for an entrée at a restaurant due to breach of contract, getting competitive quotes for a home renovation, or guiding a friend on proposal preparation. It’s beneficial to apply what you know to everyday life, and help your friends and neighbors along the way.”

10. Step Outside Your Procurement Comfort Zone to Grow

‘Because we’ve always done it this way’ is not a phrase that Diana accepts. Constantly re-evaluating and re-engineering the procurement process is a lifelong commitment to excellence that every procurement professional can strive for.

After delivering this engaging and inter-active session, Diana left the audience with these “Calls to Action”:

  • Raise your profile as professionals to become trusted business advisors.
  • Be responsive, service and solution oriented to clients.
  • Show by example the value your function brings to public programs, systems and infrastructure.
  • Challenge the way things are and support innovation.
  • Get involved so that procurement gains due recognition as a critical strategic function that supports the entire organization’s objectives.

These sage words of wisdom from Diana can perhaps best be summarized by the quote from Albert Einstein that she began her presentation with: “strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”.

Currently in the role of Manager, IM/IT Procurement, Contracting and Licensing, with the Information Management Branch at the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Diana can be reached at (778) 698-3490.

Readers are cautioned not to rely upon this article as legal advice nor as an exhaustive discussion of the topic or case.  For any particular legal problem, seek advice directly from your lawyer or in-house counsel.  All dates, contact information and website addresses were current at the time of original publication.