10 Hot procurement and supply chain skills for 2019

As the procurement and supply chain functions continue to adopt AI and automated process into their day-to-day operations, there is an increasing focus on how to integrate these new technologies into existing teams. Hiring top talent to effectively manage new technologies will be the key to success this year, along with the know-how to navigate choppy economic waters.
Using our comprehensive insight into the market and from our daily conversations with both employers and professionals, we have identified the top skills expected to shape the sector in 2019. 

1. Automotive purchasing – hybrid powertrains

As there is now a significant obligation for the industry to supply hybrid and battery-powered cars, the need for professionals with experience and expertise in automotive purchasing, particularly with hybrid powertrains, has increased significantly. Professionals who possess this skill set are only expected to be more in demand as we move towards the 2040 deadline, whereby diesel cars will be banned in the UK.

2. New product introduction (NPI)

New product introduction (NPI) is a fundamental skill set in the procurement and supply chain function. As demand for the newest and most innovative products continues to grow, and technology continues to evolve, professionals skilled in NPI are highly coveted. These skills are key to ensure growth and profitability for any business.

3. Supply and demand planning

Next day deliveries are almost considered the standard in the fast-paced, consumer-focused market of today. In line with this, in order to shorten the time it takes to deliver products to customers, there is a growing need for efficient supply and demand planning. As more people choose to make their purchases via online platforms, more people are needed to manage this process and balance what is ordered, with what is available.

4. Extended category management 

The effective management of internal processes is key for all businesses in every sector to remain operative. In-depth category knowledge and experience ensures that key categories are managed most efficiently. This is why it is essential that procurement and supply teams have professionals who are experienced in purchasing essential services to support the function, such as external marketing or professional services. In addition to this, as IT is a specialist area, those with experience working within IT are highly valuable.

5. Talent development

As the competition for talented procurement and supply chain professionals is so high, if employers aren't truly valuing their skills, then they will lose them. This is why, in addition to core skill sets required for a role in the sector, it is vital that leaders, in particular, are experienced in the effective management of talent. This extends to acquiring the right mix of skills to complete a project, to being able to quickly identify gaps, and see where individuals can improve.

6. Stakeholder enablement 

For many high-performing procurement functions, the next step on their maturity journey is actually to move away from day-to-day operation procurement. Instead, organisations are putting framework deals and catalogues in place in order to enable stakeholders to make their own purchases on low-value items, such as uniform, stationery, and IT peripherals. The time saved through using this approach is invaluable in freeing up lean procurement teams to focus on strategic procurement and category management.

7. Supplier relationship management 

Historically an often-overlooked method of driving value, organisations are increasingly investing in better management of relationships with strategic vendors. By ensuring that contractual terms are being adhered to, and service level agreements are being met, SRM can enhance the value they are achieving. The next step is to work collaboratively with key suppliers to look for opportunities to drive more value from the vendor’s supply chain – these savings can then be passed on to the customer.

8. Brexit readiness

One issue which must be on every procurement and supply chain professional’s agenda is to prepare their organisations for the potential impacts – and also opportunities – that could be brought about by Brexit. Considerations will involve the impact on pricing, tariffs, import and export, lead times and availability. 

9. Knowledge and understanding of regulations

Public sector procurement is just as much about ensuring due process is adhered to, thereby protecting the organisation from legal scrutiny, as it is about commercial delivery. With the ever-changing legal landscape of the public sector, it is important to keep up with the legal side of procurement. Understanding the difference between the Utilities Contracts Regulations (UCR) and Public Contracts Regulations (PCR) is key. It is also important to keep up to date with all elements of Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and stay in touch with organisations such as Crown Commercial Service (CCS) for updates, new rules, and regulations.

10. Sales and operation planning (S&OP)

Whether sales and operation planning (S&OP) extends as far as the supply chain, or takes a more holistic view as with integrated business planning (IBP), the concept devised by Oliver Wight is that all planning should be conducted with the collaboration of all stakeholders. This is in order to drive efficiency and develop robust plans and schedules. Ultimately, this will enable customers’ expectations to be more effectively managed, drive a higher OTIF rate, and result in less wasted time and surplus stock holding.
Looking forward, as the industry continues to evolve the core skills sets of procurement professionals will also change. We partnered with Procurious to explore what skills will be fundamental as AI become further integrated into the sector. View our article ‘Human vs AI in procurement and supply’ for further insight. 
As leading recruiters in the UK with a global network, we have an extensive database of top talented professionals to take your business to the next level, helping you to stay ahead of the competition.  For a confidential discussion on how we can help you get the best talent with the right skills, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.
To view the 100 most in-demand skills across a range of sectors use our handy new tool by clicking here.
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