Unless you’ve been living under a rock – and I mean no disrespect to anyone out there who may actually be living under a rock – you know about the continuing crisis with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight hundred thousand gallons of oil have been spewed into the water each day since an April 20 explosion on an oil drilling platform.

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With the catastrophe continuiung and garnering significant attention from everyone from the international news media to the President of the United States, people are looking for someone to blame. And most are pointing their fingers right to the top executive of BP for overseeing a process that has led to such a massive disaster.

But who is the top executive of BP blaming?

It sounds like suppliers and the BP team responsible for working with those suppliers.

In today’s Wall Stret Journal, BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward published a letter explaining how BP is trying to curb the crisis in the Gulf. In this letter, he cites three “lessons” learned from the crisis. The third lesson is the one that will get procurement professionals’ attention.

He writes that “the industry should carefully evaluate its business model. For decades, exploration and production companies have relied on outsourcing work to specialized contractors…But the question after the Deepwater Horizon accident is how all involved parties—including exploration and production companies and drilling contractors—can work even more closely together to better understand and significantly reduce the various risks associated with drilling operations.”

According to an article on comcast.net, “the doomed Deepwater Horizon exploration rig…was owned by Transocean Ltd, while Halliburton Co was working to seal the well when the blowout occurred.”

Hayward appears to be playing the “when you look bad, blame the vendor” game that I’ve written about so many times here on this blog. The upside that I see from a procurement standpoint is that Hayward’s statement indicates that depending on suppliers will continue, but that a more collaborative approach can be taken.

That is a small silver lining in a very dark cloud (or body of water, in this case), but it is better to have procurement practices improve as a result of a catastrophe than to have a catastrophe followed by no changes made in the way things are done.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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