Skip to main content

Procurement Explained

Lets discuss Procurement!

When posing the question "what is procurement?" to individuals, more often than not, many will have a different interpretation. This is a robust topic even in a room of 'procurement professionals'. The ambiguity and often inconsistency of what is the role or what activities do procurement undertake varies from organisation to organisation. Each organisation has its own parameters of what the procurement team manages, often governed through a Procurement Policy set by the organisation.  The diagram on this page shows the end to end procurement lifecycle and specifically the activities within the lifecycle that are directly managed by UNSW's procurement team. 

To keep it simple as possible, at UNSW we define procurement as:

"the acquisition of goods, services, infrastructure and capital works whether purchased or leased". 

We advocate delivery of procurement by following the simple FOUR STEP process.  Anyone wanting to 'acquire goods, services, infrastructure or deliver capital works', should be informed on the four step process and how the procurement team will assist or facilitate. 

Across other industries and sectors, the complexity of the steps (4 step process) varies. This leads to each procurement function different duties and similar organisations to UNSW may or may not include the same  'stepped process'. This results in potential confusion and ambiguity to what procurement is responsible for. It is important that at UNSW, we as procurement enable you and clearly explain how procurement is managed for UNSW in particular. On our website, the policy page contains the Four Step Process as well as a short video that aims to step these out in a simple and interactive way. Visit to watch. 

What is Category Management

Welcome to Category Management!

Category Management, as the word suggests, is a way in which goods and services are grouped together. By analysing UNSW's financial management's data we are able to inspect trends and patterns of buying behaviour over time. This could be engagement of certain suppliers, or the type of items being purchased. This data drives what categories procurement focus on and dedicate appropriate resources time and effort to managing. 

Having a defined set of categories allows for the UNSW procurement team to be structured by way of categories. Members of the procurement team here at UNSW deliver procurement outcomes that are associated with specific categories, and then deliver activities against these defined categories.

What is the benefit of structuring a team in 'Categories'? - The key benefit is really, for YOU the end customer. You have at your disposal a small team of dedicated resources able to facilitate and deliver key strategic procurement initiatives for you and your specific category needs. Our team may already have knowledge of the subject matter and we strive to be, procurement business partners and category specialists. 

There are four key categories that exist at UNSW within the procurement team. The categories managed by the procurement team and explained further on this page.



Category Structure
Categories adopted at UNSW
Source to Contract- the Procurement team is here to help

Now that you have a good understanding of procurement and the four step process, its time to walk through the lifecycle and specifically what the four step process actually means in the context of UNSW.

The lifecycle diagram included at the bottom of this website page has two distinct colour schemes:

  • Activities within the lifecycle displayed in yellow are considered to be 'upstream' services that the UNSW procurement team will deliver to you the end customer.
  • Activities within the lifecycle displayed in grey are considered 'downstream' and displays the point in time (with a handshake emoji) where the activities transition from the procurement team to the Accounts Payable team. This seamless transition occurs after a contract is executed with the successful supplier(s).

Although both teams are within Finance, this life-cycle wheel shows the separation of responsibilities. Having a good understanding of the differences no doubt will be beneficial when discussing your requirements with procurement and downstream activities with the Accounts Payable team. 

UNSW Procurement Defined
Strategic Procurement team's Source to Contract responsbilities