Bad Buying: How Organisations Waste Billions through Failures, Frauds and F*ck-ups hits the virtual shops and bookshelves next Thursday the 8th (you can order it here) so in the next five days, I’ll take you briefly through the chapters of the book. Literally thousands of people (well, one at least) asked to see the contents page so here it is, at the end of this article.
Chapter 1 looks at specifications. And I’m sorry to play to stereotypes (and my wonderful “boss” at Penguin is Irish) but my favourite story is the Irish government buying super high-tech digital printing equipment – only to find that the machinery was too big to fit into the Dublin parliament building where it was going to be housed. Take the roof off, that’s the answer… Which just goes to show, that while specifications for complex IT programmes or mega-construction projects can be a problem, sometimes the basics (like dimensions) can catch us out.
But we can also under-specify, trying to save money but in a manner that causes problems or doesn’t deliver real value. There is a theory for instance that the Titanic sank because of cheap iron rivets that weren’t up to the job. And one of my early successes as a young procurement manager was paying more than I could have got away with in order to get innovative Easter Egg packaging designs from my suppliers. Within a couple of years, those new products helped Mars go from having no presence in that market at all, to selling millions of eggs and being a market leader – yes, it’s the famous Milky Way Rocket Carton!
In the book, we then move on to understanding the market and choosing suppliers. That takes us into dodgy social media practices, the Rowntrees historical cocoa market wipe-out, and the problems when you give contracts to your friends. I know, you would never do that… Anyway, more tomorrow, and here is the contents list.
PART 1: FAILURE
1. Getting the Specification Right: Irish printers, Easter- egg rockets and Aussie train toilets
2. Understanding the Market: Cocoa beans, fake followers and rehabilitating offenders
3. Choosing Suppliers: Dodgy T-shirts, working with mates and banking fiascos
4. Don’t Get Too Dependent: Seat covers, hospital rip-offs and bigger isn’t always better
Bad Buying Award – Schlitz Beer
5. How to Negotiate: Charlie Hurley, missile interceptors and consultants’ lunches
6. Understanding Incentives: Cultivating coca, Dutch traffic jams and Birmingham call centres
7. How Not to Be Stupid (particularly if you’re a politician): Misplaced airports, imaginary ferries and Indian offsets
Bad Buying Award – NHS National IT Programme (NPfIT)
8. Trust No One (at least not suppliers): Lulu the dog, French concert halls and US Navy ships
9. Coping with Change: Technology disasters, fried- chicken shortages and Crossrail delays
10. What’s the Risk?: The wrong fish, Japanese earthquakes and running bears
Bad Buying Award – Berlin Brandenburg (not yet an) Airport
11. The Joys of Contract Management: Bollards, Xmas parties and big IT overspends
PART 2: FRAUD & CORRUPTION
12. The Fundamentals of Fraud: Power stations, hotel bills and the greyhound-racing mafia
13. Who Am I Really Buying From?: Marine hoses, Indian brewers and the ’Ndrangheta
14. Fixing the Supplier Selection: Canadian politics, working with Mum and painting the NHS
Bad Buying Award – Fat Leonard and the US Navy
15. What Am I Really Buying?: Bomb detection, Frenchified kiwi fruit and spaceship resilience
16. Spending Someone Else’s Money: Florida dogs, owl jars and sex lairs
17. What Am I Paying For?: Pricey potatoes, horse semen and shops in Wolverhampton
18. Politics and Fraud: Ski-jumping, bribing dictators and Austrian promises
Bad Buying Award – Petrobas and Odebrecht
19. Preventing Fraud: Collusion, checking and commitments
PART 3: HOW TO AVOID THE F** K-UPS
20. Ten Principles for Good Buying