Procurement innovation is still about people

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Earlier this month we held a round table on procurement innovation with a number of leading CPOs. Most of the discussion was around the key trends of economics, sustainability and technology that we’ve written about here. However, in the discussion at the end we asked what were the key issues that all of these procurement heads were concerned about now? The stand out issue was getting and retaining top procurement talent.

As procurement teams are looking to achieve more through collaboration, change and influence, these skills rather than category skills are coming to become more important. The feeling was that category and procurement skills could be trained (or accessed from knowledge management systems). It’s much harder to train someone in change and influencing skills who doesn’t have them in the first place. Many companies were reviewing their procurement teams and putting a premium on those with consultative skills.

Innovation is coming from organisations looking at using an understanding of psychology as they look to build teams. ‘You can’t make good procurement people unless they have lived the life at other departments’ said one participant. More companies are looking at developing innovative talent management programmes to retain top talent. One CPO told us, ‘We formed a club with non-competing companies such as a bank etc. We had really smart people involved for example a really smart IT procurement person. No one single company needed this person full time for the whole year, so this person was shared among all these companies and was really effective for all of them. The person gained expertise they would never have got from working for just one company.’

Although, one company was finding many candidates for some top positions everyone was finding it difficult to attract top talent, even in the current economic environment, ‘High calibre people get snapped up.’

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