The future of the procurement function is often viewed to be uncertain. We are already seeing a need for professionals to diversify their skill sets and take on a broader scope within their roles. This has seen the emergence of some key skills, particularly those that help boost the position of procurement within the business.
To ensure your business is ready for the challenges of 2020, it is crucial to know and understand the top skills that will be fundamental in driving success in the year ahead.
In-depth category knowledge and experience ensures that key categories are managed most efficiently. Effective skills in this area benefit organisations through reducing the cost of buying goods and services, reducing risk in the supply chain and increasing overall value from the supply base. This is why procurement teams must include professionals who are experienced in purchasing essential services, such as external marketing or professional services. In addition to this, as IT is a specialist area, those with experience working in IT are highly valuable.
In addition to core skill sets required for a role in indirect procurement, leaders today must be great at effectively managing the talent in their teams. This means acquiring the right mix of skills, being able to quickly identify gaps, and working with individuals to build learning and development plans. Whether or not there are areas for improvement, to ensure top talent is constantly engaged and improving, regular conversations around personal development and interests need to occur.
At the core of a procurement professional's role is managing stakeholder relationships. However, organisations are increasingly putting framework deals and catalogues in place to enable stakeholders to make purchases on low-value items, such as uniforms, stationery, and IT peripherals. Adopting this approach and boosting the engagement of stakeholders with these processes saves procurement functions time, allowing them to focus on strategic procurement and category management.
Supplier risk management
Ensuring that contractual terms are being adhered to, and service level agreements are being met, the effective management of supplier risks can enhance the value they are achieving. Historically an overlooked method of driving value, organisations are now increasingly investing in better management of relationships with strategic vendors. Further to this, working collaboratively with key suppliers to look for opportunities to drive more value from the vendor’s supply chain can mean savings for the customer.
Sales and influencing
The procurement function is one that is often undervalued and misunderstood by other functions within a business. Professionals that can adopt a sales approach when working with other functions can be pivotal in influencing key stakeholders to allow the procurement function to drive value across other areas of the business. This can be particularly pertinent at the senior level and it is imperative that leaders are able to educate and influence board members on an organisation's procurement agenda.
Influencing internal and external stakeholders can often take time, and not all negotiations end in favour of procurement teams. To truly drive value, resilience and patience are real virtuous skills that can serve procurement functions well. Professionals that see the longer-picture when having hard conversations with stakeholders and how the negotiations they are having today can help shape the business in the future, are key in an ever-evolving business landscape.
Governance and process management
In order to strengthen the capabilities of procurement, strategically designed and managed processes and governance are key. This not only ensures that the benefits of these policies are maximised across the business, but also helps drive the procurement agenda. Professionals skilled in managing procurement strategies and governance are pivotal in ensuring procurement has a greater voice across the business and can influence decision making on a strategic level. For this reason, people with these skills will continue to be in high demand this year.
A deeper understanding of how a business operates and how the procurement function can improve the bottom line is crucial in supporting conversations with senior executives within a business. This can be a complex process and requires knowledge of multiple areas of a commercial operation. Being able to understand the needs of key stakeholders and align objectives to organisational goals can help boost the profile of procurement - and thus skills in this area are always sought after.
Emotional intelligence has been a hot topic on the broader business agenda and organisations around the globe are waking up to its commercial importance. Therefore, professionals in procurement that possess well-rounded people skills and a high level of emotional intelligence EI are increasingly coveted by top employers. Being able to empathise with and read other people is fundamental to building strong relationships. As influencing and negotiating are core aspects of a procurement professional's role, EI is a useful skill to possess when working with a variety of stakeholders on a day-to-day basis.
Personable and likeable procurement professionals can be the key to better negotiations. This is a skill that is hard to define, but one that can set the best apart from the competition. Someone who is personable will make eye contact when having a conversation, smile often and give a firm handshake, all traits that instil trust and confidence in others. They also tend to be quite enthusiastic, use people's names throughout a conversation, and are inclusive of everyone in a discussion.
To find out more about how we can support your hiring processes and source the right talent for your team, get in touch with your local Michael Page Procurement team. If you would like to explore your career opportunities in finance, be sure to sign up to MyPage to make the most of our Job Match tool.