Supplier Relationship Management: quite the conundrum!

In June our national procurement and supply chain business partnered with State of Flux to lead seminars around the topic of Supplier Relationship Management (SRM). Hosted by John Newton, MD of State of Flux, these events saw our clients discuss the best ways to release true value from their supply chain through SRM.
We saw some great dialogue and debate around the subject of supplier management and how it forms a vital step in innovative procurement best practice moving forward. But the following question was a particular topic of debate: “Can the value released by relationships be quantified financially?”
Unlike a cost saving strategy, an SRM initiative is difficult to quantify. Discussions showed a consensus that supplier management is commercial but that mapping tangible financial outcomes can be challenging. John offered some great insight on this matter and many of our clients felt that this was one of the most pivotal topics discussed.
It certainly made me consider the exact extent to which the challenges of sourcing talent within SRM are intrinsically linked to the question of measuring value. One of the biggest challenges recruiting for SRM is recognising what good looks like.
The number of SRM specialists within the procurement market is limited and their backgrounds vary hugely from category management, to contract management, to programme management. Therefore, when building their SRM strategy clients have to think creatively about what a candidate needs to demonstrate to be an appropriate fit. 
Rob Bales, Operations Director for Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain, wrote an insightful article for our April instalment about ‘Finding Talent that Whispers’ where he explored the importance of looking beyond the parameters of a CV to understand people’s potential. This feels particularly relevant to me, when considering hires for SRM.
Value is often defined as cost saving in procurement terms, and most procurement professionals will therefore highlight their cost related achievements when outlining their professional experience. 
I recently met a candidate who was facing redundancy after 10 years in contract management. Her principal concern about market transferability was, “…contract management is all I do.” What her CV didn’t say is that she had dedicated a huge amount of her career developing a black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) strategy for the business she worked for, driving better relationships and inclusion policies with internal and external stakeholders, and acting as Chair for their Inclusion Committee for Business Services. 
When I asked her why she hadn’t included it, she said that it wasn’t really procurement. Perhaps her nervousness about the relevance of that experience is an illustration of the challenges around identifying SRM potential, and therefore hiring it. To me, she demonstrates great promise to thrive in SRM: innovation, communication skills, relationship development. But from a hiring manager’s perspective, was she right to consider it irrelevant? Or, would you consider the experience transferrable to SRM, as I did?
Could prioritising soft skills, social sustainability efforts, communication skills and internal stakeholder engagement over strategic sourcing experience, be the solution to hiring good SRM candidates? 
Perhaps there isn’t a limited candidate pool in SRM after all, but rather a huge candidate pool disguised as a whole host of other procurement professionals, waiting for a little creative insight to really unearth their value.
For help on sourcing talent within SRM for your business please contact Alice Traish on T: +44 207 269 2322,