In this part-series, Institute of Development Management’s (IDM) THEETSO NTSIMA discusses Procurement as a discipline that has been in Botswana for about four decades, yet it continues to face challenges. Ntsima argues, it is about time there is dialogue for a change of mind-set in the way people view and understand procurement.
Procurement was first recognised in Botswana at Bamangwato Concession Limited mine (in Selebi-Phikwe) in the late 1970 or early 1980s. BCL was one of the first companies to recognise procurement at lower levels particularly stores and materials management. Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) followed later. However, over the years, procurement has been relegated to clerical work and we need to change this mind-set. It was normal to promote clerical staff to procurement store rooms because organizations did not know where else to place them. One would imagine the amount of money that is held in our store rooms in the form of inventory, which are in the hands of employees who do not hold relevant qualifications. Procurement is not an activity or once off thing, but it is a core function to any organisation.
Procurement plays an important role in institutions worldwide, including national governments, local authorities, and the private sector. Within an organisation, procurement deals with soliciting and buying goods and services from external suppliers for use in achieving its objectives (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, 2012). The significance of procurement is more evident in institutions that spend heavily annually on the purchase, rental, or lease of goods, services and the construction sector.
IDM realised the value add of this function a long time ago and became the first institution to develop training solutions that address the skills gap for store-keepers and procurement professionals. The Institute was responding accordingly to the needs on the ground, particularly at the time when Botswana was making baby-steps following its independence from the British colony.
IDM developed short-term professional development training of up to three months on store-keeping and materials management. Many other organisations later followed suit by offering procurement related courses and recognised procurement as an important function.
Around 1998, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) branch was formed and launched by dedicated men and women who recognised the importance of procurement. There are a couple of procurement gurus in Botswana who must be credited for being the pioneers of procurement in Botswana whom most of them are the product of IDM.
Procurement account for about (60-70%) of any organisation spending and therefore, the government, private companies NGO and individuals need to start paying serious attention to procurement if they want to stay relevant on these economic trying times.
Accountants and Auditors have been given the heads up for a long time, but accountants account for procurement spending, auditors audit procurement spending. Why then are organisations only paying attention to accountants and auditors when procurement is the main driving force in organisations? If organisations can start recognising procurement, issues of fraud, corruption and mismanagement that we often hear about would be greatly reduced. If more personnel are trained in procurement, issues of project delay and cost over runs would be greatly reduced.
Credit must be given to our government as they have since started training procurement professionals in different departments. Institutions of higher learning have started receiving high number of in-service employees pursuing training in procurement. It is a welcome development and the private sector should follow suit.
Institute of Development Management is still relevant and offering training in procurement having partnered with Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). IDM is also offering tailor-made short training courses in Procurement, Supply Chain Management, Transport and Logistics. With the most qualified trainers, solution-based programmes in procurement are offered either, full time or part time ranging from CIPS Level 2 to 6, BSc-Supply Chain Management (Bolton University), MSc-Supply Chain Management and many other short courses.
*Theetso Ntsima MCIPS, Chartered Procurement and Supply Professional
Senior Consultant – Supply Chain Management at IDM Botswana.