Professionalising SCM in Government

Henry Malinga CIPS Conf 2010.JPGGovernment is ushering in a new benchmark for recognising the qualifications of Procurement and Supply Chain practitioners in the public sector in South Africa.

National Treasury is standardising the procurement qualifications for all Government Supply Chain Management (SCM) personnel.

It will now be a pre-requisite for all Public Sector SCM personnel to become members of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), and to have or attain certain prescribed CIPS qualifications, announced Henry Malinga, Chief Director SCM Policy of National Treasury.

“This will ensure that SCM personnel are professionally qualified, which will contribute to clear career paths, and that the citizens of South Africa will enjoy the services of competent supply chain managers and increased standards and levels of service delivery,” said Malinga, in his keynote address to delegates at the CIPS Pan African Conference in April.

CIPS and the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) will develop accredited programmes to improve professional development in government supply chain management.

The move comes after a 2009 examination of the National SCM Framework against the training landscape to determine the qualifications gap among practitioners as measured against two recognised qualifications: the Higher Certificate in SCM (NQF Level 5), and the Post Graduate Diploma in SCM (SAQA). The problem that persisted is that training and standards were fragmented, said Malinga.

Treasury is also devising a more effective skills retention plan. Right now the Public Sector is porous and personnel pass freely between different departments and entities. Departments are being encouraged to come up with proper ‘demand plans’ for their personnel needs, he concluded.

Malinga’s announcement comes on the back of Eskom GM of Distribution Sebastian Masondo’s comments at the conference that the solution to a professional dispensation lies in a uniform and nationally recognised set of qualifications “which we all now have access to. Each P&SM practitioner should aim for the CIPS CPM Qualification, it is their future badge.”

CIPS Conference 2010

Karen van Vuuren CIPS Conf 2010.JPGKaren van Vuuren, CPO of Absa Group Sourcing, discussed what is takes to be best in class, which she says depends very much on how you measure performance.

“According to international P & SM Consultants McKinsey, Absa has reached second in their class. My problem with this is that good is the enemy of great, second is simply not good enough,” explained van Vuuren.

On how to achieve a balanced scorecard, she advises that you take a look at important five markers: customer relationship management, talented people, savings, sustainability and supplier relationship management.

“If your scorecard balances then you know you are working efficiently across the whole house of procurement and have earned that license to operate,” she said.

Sebastian Masondo reminded delegates that most organisations entrust 60% of their revenue to Procurement, but don’t give it much credibility.

“We need to tap into the strategic potential of Procurement,” said Masondo.

He advised that P&SM practitioners urgently need a unified code of conduct and detailed practise guidelines. He proposed a license to practise, with accountability. “The legal and medical professions have grounds under which you get disbarred.”

John Collington, Group Commercial Director for Home Office UK, reached the conference via digital video. He discussed the necessary steps to transform a poorly performing Purchasing and Supply Management team.

He spoke from his experience of transforming a UK government department that was performing dismally and had a poor reputation when he joined it in 2006.

“There are four key components involved in major transformation and it’s the job of the procurement leader to join up these elements into a world class operation,” explained Collington.

First, People. Get the best you can afford. His mantra is “buy the best people and build the organisation”. Aim for A-team players with confidence and who are highly capable. You must instil a culture of learning to increase skills on an ongoing basis.

Second, focus on the process, with technology as the prime enabler. To achieve a total procurement service you need to focus on sourcing, then procurement operations and then on suppliers and contract management.

Third, managing relationships, with stakeholders, customers and suppliers. The two main skills required are supplier management and contract management. When it comes to contracts the three words to remember are delivery, trust and respect.

Fourth, results. “If you can measure it you can manage it and you can claim it," concluded Collington.

For more information on CIPS qualifications contact Lenah on (+27) 87 806 2763 or email her on

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