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A Procurement Carol

Business | December 25, 2022 | By Roshan Siddharth Ramanee A Procurement Carol

Adapting the Dickens classic onto a procurement floor on Christmas eve. 

“It is the most wonderful time of the year,” sang Andy Williams. And his voice echoed across the land. There was snow outside, the roads and halls decked with lights and holly. All were in a merry spirit, but for a few. The most senior manager of the Procurement department at ACME INC. was a very stressed old man with a short fuse named Ebenezer Scrooge. He sat in his cabin on a frigid Christmas Eve. His colleague and line manager, Bob Cratchit, shivers in the anteroom at the site of the paperwork and data dumps he received on the night before Christmas. And also, because for Scrooge, work comes first, the rules of procurement can’t be bent, and nothing should be done to the existing way things work.

Fred, the department intern, pays his mentor a visit and invites him to the annual Christmas party. Two portly gentlemen from corporate also drop by and ask Scrooge about the progress of the parts and delivery. Scrooge reacts to the holiday cheer and the work at hand with bitterness and venom, spitting out an angry “Bah! Humbug!” in response to everything that comes his way. It’s only natural, you see. The last thing one would want on Christmas eve is to be going through fresh BOMs and filing RFQs. But so would fate have it.

Later that evening, after returning to his apartment, Scrooge receives a chilling visitation from the ghost of a good old friend and partner, Jacob Marley. Marley, looking haggard and pallid, relates his unfortunate story. He looks back on his days as a procurement professional, where he put everything aside to get the job done. As a sentence for not being strategic and purely result oriented, his spirit has been condemned to wander the Earth weighted down with heavy chains. Marley hopes to save Scrooge from sharing the same fate. Marley informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during each of the following three nights. After the wraith disappears, Scrooge collapses into a deep sleep.

Ghost of Procurement Past

A Procurement Carol | First Ghist

He wakes moments before the arrival of the Ghost of Procurement Past, a strange phantom from a time before with a brightly glowing head. The spirit escorts Scrooge on a journey into the past to previous Christmases from the curmudgeon’s earlier years. Invisible to those he watches, Scrooge revisits his early days on the factory floor, handling things the old ways. The vast amounts of ledgers, handmade bills, written approvals, communication lost in the chain of command, and the overall hurdles that occurred in the days before the computer took over offices, factories, and processes. Scrooge in a mix of nostalgia and shock sheds tears of worry before the phantom returns him to his bed.

Ghost of Procurement Present

A Procurement Carol | Second Ghost

The Ghost of Procurement Present, a majestic giant clad in a green fur robe, takes Scrooge through the city to unveil Christmas and the current happenings as it will happen that year. Scrooge watches Cratchit coordinate and haggle with the entire team available on the eve against their will. This is when he realizes his team’s prowess and value. Despite it being swamped and the cusp of the holiday time, his time runs from pillar to post. They check each delivery, and its contents and match it with a parts list and PO. Quality is of utmost importance, and it proves to be cumbersome to ensure the same. Scrooge also finds the intern, Fred, to be learning a lot in the process and getting hands-on despite his experience. Although the situation is very dire and critical, the team manages to keep a good spirit and camaraderie on the floor.

The bird’s eye view of the team and their difficulties helps Scrooge better understand the failings of the process and the gaps that need to be filled. He understands the criticality of the gap between the procurement, part, and manufacturing lifecycle and how the procurement function is where everything is aligned. As the day passes, the spirit ages, becoming noticeably older. Toward the end of the day, he shows Scrooge two major red flags, Fragmented Processes, and Maverick Spends, living under his coat. He vanishes instantly as Scrooge notices a dark, hooded figure coming toward him.

Ghost of Procurement Yet to Come

A Procurement Carol | Third Ghost

The Ghost of Procurement Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a sequence of mysterious scenes relating to an unnamed company’s recent closing. Scrooge sees businessmen discussing the dead company’s shares, some trading the company’s products and assets for liquidity, and some even expressing relief at the closing. Scrooge, anxious to learn the lesson of his latest visitor, begs to know the name of the dead company. After pleading with the ghost, Scrooge finds himself reading an article that shows ACME INC closing. Scrooge looks at the headline and is shocked to read his workplace’s name. He desperately implores the spirit to alter his fate, promising to renounce his touch and rigid ways and to honor Christmas and Procurement with all his heart. Whoosh! He suddenly finds himself safely tucked in his bed.


A Merry Procurement Christmas

Overwhelmed with joy with the chance to redeem himself, and grateful that he has been returned to Christmas Day, Scrooge rushes out onto the street, hoping to share his newfound Procurement spirit. He signs off on Cratchits long pending request for good and robust procurement software. He also takes in Fred’s suggestion for the automation of some of the processes that will streamline the overall workflow. As the years go by, he witnesses the transformation of procurement as it keeps up with a changing modern time yet retains its importance in the industry. Scrooge’s turn of heart and policy changed procurement at ACME INC. He calls his team the next morning and takes them out to breakfast before they go to their homes and have a Merry Christmas!

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