The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines procurement as the act or process of procuring. It is derived from procure which means “to get possession of or to obtain by particular care and effort.”

Going a step further, here is the origin and etymology of procure: “Middle English, from Anglo-French procurer, from Late Latin procurare, from Latin, to take care of, from pro– for + cura care.”

Rounding out the search for meaning in the word procurement, I found the following synonyms: acquisition, acquirement, appropriation, attainment, and procuring.

I also found several relevant quotes that add more color to what procurement means:

You need to understand what you are buying, and why, how it will affect your business, and what the potential risks are. That detailed understanding may be beyond the scope of a procurement department.

— Owen Williams

If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.

— B. C. Forbes

Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.

— James W. Frick

It is bad procurement policy to unilaterally lock itself into one set of technologies.

— Tom Schatz

More business is lost every year through neglect than through any other cause.

— Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

Why focus on procurement?

Like other aspects of a business, it is a system that can evolve and have an impact on how an organization functions, it can be used to help leaders manage risk, and influence the pace of innovation.

Slow procurement processes can stunt business growth and contribute to a sense of complacency within a company structure. Enabling faster access to what people need to do their job within a company can stimulate growth.

For me, the most informative part of this quick look at the word procurement and its origins is that it is derived from a Latin word that means to take care of.

It sounds simple, but when seen in this light, procurement takes on new meaning–it’s about taking care of others to help them get what they need.

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