/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.
Over 600 procurement and supply chain professionals gathered together online for the first-ever virtual indaba from 24-25 November 2020, to make ‘Sense out of Rands, and to reaffirm the vital role procurement plays in the post-COVID economy in South Africa and the broader continent.
High on the agenda of the 14th annual Smart Procurement World Indaba and Absa ESD Expo 2020, were sessions such as: the reigniting of the spirit of entrepreneurship and the acceleration of SMMEs into mainstream business; a Make Procurement Great Again panel discussion; and a Keynote CEO case study, and Lessons learned from a crisis.
Opening the conference, Absa’s Chief Procurement Officer, Vusi Fele, reminded delegates that SMMEs were vital potential job creators and integral to sustainable economic and social inclusion. His message resonated, with one delegate remarking: “the event rocked, making (sustainable) procurement great again!”
The challenges to be overcome by SMMEs, said Fele, included access to funding, vetting processes, high due diligence costs, and the development of sound business plans. “There’s no doubt that supporting entrepreneurs through the corporate supply chain delivers material benefits to local economic development and transformation, and is therefore good business.”
“The success of any organisation depends on the efficiency of the SCM department,” pointed out one of the many SCM luminaries at the event, Mpho Nxumalo, Acting Chief Director: SCM Policy and Legal, Chair Interim Supply Chain Management Council (ISCMC), National Treasury.
She also remarked that SCM personnel needed to understand the business goals of their organisation and their part in making these goals a reality. “It is a profession and should not be seen as a sub to the finance department. Let the SCM unit have a home in the organisation that will determine the framework and guide how SCM should be positioned strategically.”
Walter Maleyana, Governance Advisor: SCM Professionalisation, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, said there was an urgent need for SCM practitioners to be assigned to a professional body in order to improve the levels of standards and ethics which guided them. “This will also allow for licences to be revoked should practitioners be found to be corrupt, and ensure skills development in the industry.”
The keynote CEO case study, presented by Stephan van Coller, CEO of EOH, provided a number of key insights, such as: “Businesses aren’t corrupt – people are! So what culture are you building? Remember culture needs strategy.”
He reminded delegates that the separation of crucial roles was imperative. “It’s dangerous to be the gatekeeper and the signatory at the same time. There should be structures in place and they need to be established in three layers: first, front line workers; second, internal audits; and third, external audits.” He said strong board independence, in accordance with the King IV Principles, should be meticulously implemented, and ended his presentation with a powerful statement: “Revenue is vanity. Profit is sanity. Cash is reality.”
Another highlight of the conference was the Senior Procurement Leaders Forum, sponsored by Ecovadis and Tourvest, which brought 150 leaders from all sectors together into a virtual room to look at the strategic value of procurement and its post-COVID role. For the rest of the Indaba, delegates chose between the main conference plenary, one of four conference streams which focused on priority public and private sector topics, and conferences being run simultaneously by the Association of B-BBEE Professionals (ABP) and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP SA).
The enthusiastic reception by delegates to the event was evidence of their need to be re-energised after a gloomy year, and their appreciation of the honest but hopeful presentations and discussions during the indaba:
“Wow, awesome conference. Great way to end the year.” ~ Shirley Moss, Owner, Admast Training and Recruitment, Professional Training Consultant and Facilitator.
“Congratulations to Smart Procurement, APMP and ABP for a wonderful virtual experience.” ~ Ozias Ncube, Area Head: Management Systems, Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership