Written by: Chris Mackie – The Pro Forum Community of Practice

Today with rapidly changing technology it might be the procurement officer’s (responsible for the efficient, ethical and effective use of government resources) job to ask if the planned procurement is the latest paradigm in the industry.

How can a procurement officer influence a business area to consider paradigm shifts?

Alright, good question! By asking questions and by being professionally engaged with their organisation and the organisational goals. The Imperial Japanese Naval assistant attaché learned the lessons of a new paradigm in 1940 Italy where naval aircraft successfully attacked an enemy fleet in a shallow harbour, a lesson applied to the Imperial Japanese navies problem in 1941.

However, I’ll start with an example of a state-of-the-art item of an obsolete paradigm (battleships) and an obsolete item of a state-of-the-art paradigm (airpower). Confused yet? It will make sense.

Item 1: The German Battleship Bismarck (2,230 personal) terrified the Royal Navy and managed to sink the HMS Hood.

Item 2: 15 Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers (2 crew for a total of 30 personal) an obsolete biplane design.

The Bismarck was able to evade the RN surface fleet sent to kill her and was within 24 hours of safety however the Bismarck transmitted their location allowing a single squadron of biplanes to make an attack run resulting in a torpedo hitting the steering gear of the battleship leading to her destruction. This was the pattern throughout the war, in every theatre. Large warships with thousands of personnel died to paper mâché flying things.

Nice story: what’s the point? A new paradigm can make the older paradigm meaningless. Indeed, in the Pacific theatre, during 4 years of large-scale naval warfare only twice did battleships fulfil their designed role and engaged another battleship directly. Most battles were fought with airpower. Since World War II, battleships have not been built.

A less kinetic example is the creation of State level stockpiles to provide equipment for natural disasters; it might be a more efficient and effective use of resources to have a small pool of ready to use equipment and purchase 3d printers that could generate a wide range of items then having a significant logistical cost by maintaining warehousing and loss controls methods on disaster mitigation equipment. Additionally, by having the new construction paradigm, 3d printing, allows the government to be more flexible to rapidly evolving circumstances.  Some of this flexibility includes the ability manufacture in remote locations if there is sufficient power and materials.

As a procurement officer I enabled the Business Areas to purchase goods and services in an efficient and ethical manner. However, at times it is worth asking the Business Area if their planning is using current industry paradigm or if research into a new paradigm might provide a more effective solution.


What do you think? We would like to hear from you.


NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter, and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The content must not be relied upon as legal, technical, financial or other professional advice.