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The Perfect Union: Legal and Sourcing

On 1 September last year, Synergy Group took the decision to combine its Sourcing and Legal streams into one team. While reluctant at first, I am happy to declare that this union provides substantial synergies (pun absolutely intended!).
Related Topics:
Rethinking work
19 June 2024
Saskia Keenan
2 minutes
The Combination of Legal and Sourcing

On 1 September last year, Synergy Group took the decision to combine its Sourcing and Legal streams into one team. While reluctant at first, I am happy to declare that this union provides substantial synergies (pun absolutely intended!).

Procurement kind of fits everywhere though, right? yes, it does and that's one of the nice things about working in the procurement space. Our role inherently allows us to engage with everyone, whether business areas, shared services, finance or indeed legal.

So, what makes this union different? Well, for one, both teams work in a rigorous framework and are aware of and can negotiate complexities of various commercial frameworks. Both teams also guard public money, ensure compliance and are all too aware of the implications if foundations of process and governance are not solid.

Both teams act as a point of integrity, we tend not to be "loose cannons" and deep down really like following the rules. However, we are good at operating in the grey zone which allows us to optimise business outcomes in a compliant manner, while appreciating and addressing risks to ensure we are audit proof and meet the expectations of Australian Taxpayers.

We often find that business areas spend a lot of time and energy, looking for ways to circumvent the rules, rather than just working within them. Then you add the complexity of internal policy (which is often confused with the actual rules), so a lot of emotional energy (and time) is wasted, when we could just do the work the right way the first time.

I think of it like when I try to get my kids to clean their rooms - in the end its more work if they just shove everything under the bed initially, because then you're having to wash everything.

The procurement and legal relationships circumvent the urge to shove the rules aside (or push the mess under the bed) by having the right people in the room to guide and with authority, to operate within the framework and "do it right the first time" (if I had a cent for every time I said this to my kids).

Additionally, this relationship ensures we have a meeting of the minds in the drafting of conditions of tender. Other RFx documents or contracts. Drafting a contract without input from the procurement team or the legal team (that is, to draft in isolation) often results in something that cannot be easily contract managed. Therefore, erasing the value for money that we have worked so hard to realise during the procurement process. Conversely, the contract will be able to better withstand scrutiny, and potentially dispute, through rigorous, contemporaneous, best practice drafting.

A strong relationship by all the teams involved in the procurement process will always give better outcomes, but in my opinion, the relationship between procurement and legal is the one where we can truly realise value for money, and that is, in the end, what the CPRs ask us to do.