Reforming and Rethinking Procurement Talent From the Beginning

While more empirical evidence is needed, it is clear that what has been tried in the past is not working when it comes to procurement talent management. It is time to start over and become more scientific in how we think about talent and the complex organism that is procurement, using many of the ideas that we’ll be exploring in this series of posts on the topic. For an introduction to the topic, see: Mind the Talent Gap in Procurement.

Such an effort starts with realizing that talent is complex and talent elements interact with one other (it is not a question of doing four or five things right, but developing an overall program). Regardless, talent does not come first – procurement strategy and charter does. Understanding how talent management elements intersect with one other and map to a broader strategy and charter requires taking a measured and data-driven approach to finding the right resources.

Ultimately, talent management is not about identifying and developing the best possible individuals or even teams. It’s about assembling the right structure and capabilities to enable procurement to interact with the business and focus on outcomes that matter to everyone, including those who are not in procurement. Yet bringing in a bunch of new recruits that continue to carry the “process pro” flag rather than all the other skills we’ll explore is a recipe for more of the same.

Hence a true rethink of where talent rises up from is vital. Whether these resources come from internal or external sources – or aren’t people at all, but systems, professional services firms, or even outcome “factories” like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk – will become of less importance.

Talent is and always will be internal and external. And one of procurement’s most important jobs in the next decade will be the ability to identify, provision and utilize it, wherever it is.

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