Project Management

How to Buy Well: A Short Guide to Ethical Procurement

PMI Toronto Chapter

Bruce is the founder of, a resource for growing IT project managers.

Projects deliver a unique result to the world. That’s a major reason they are interesting to work on. Once project planning begins, procurement quickly becomes a vital activity. Whether you are building a bridge, installing a software upgrade or launching a new product, procurement matters to project success. Procurement poses both ethical and practical challenges.

The Procurement Landscape: Large Budgets at Stake…and Many Ethical Challenges
Let’s review the current state of the field. These examples and data points serve to guide us through the landscape. As outsourcing and globalization increase, effective and ethical procurement practices will rise in importance. The Amnesty International report below suggests that the technology industry is not immune from ethical challenges.

  • Increased procurement In Australia: In 2014-15, the Australian government reported 69,236 procurement contracts valued at $59.4 billion Australian dollars (41.6 billion USD). This represent a significant increase from 2013-14, when total procurement was $48.9 billion Australian dollars (source: Statistics on Australian Government Procurement Contracts).
  • The ethical smartphone: Fairphone, a Dutch company, has built and sold over 60,000 smartphones based on an ethical supply chain. Many smart phones rely on raw materials and …

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"Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves."

- Bertrand Russell