Developing Procurement Skills – Without Spending a Penny (Part 1)

Yesterday we put into context the need to develop procurement staff in the light of worrying findings in the Deloitte CPO survey, which suggested that CPOs were struggling to get teams in place that could actually deliver the results - and the procurement strategy - that were needed.

While expensive training courses, CIPS study and qualifications, or superb leading-edge conferences, all have their place in the personal development portfolio - if you have the money - not everyone can afford to do all the things they would ideally like to do. The cost of training and development activities is often a stumbling block when CPOs want to enhance team capability, so we have been thinking about steps and actions that can achieve benefits for the procurement team at minimal cost.

Today, we offer five ideas that draw on internal resource and cost nothing in hard cash terms.

Internal resource

  • Develop and deliver your own training sessions within the procurement function  – from basic skills to “Masterclass” sessions from more experienced members of the team. We have seen presentations from a number of CPOs over the years – Roger Davies of Marks and Spencer comes to mind as a leader in this area - that talked about taking this approach in a structured and very successful manner. We suspect that everybody in your team has something that they are good at / know about, something that others in the team might benefit from hearing about.
  • Coaching and mentoring schemes – that might range from the CPO her/himself being mentored, perhaps by a main board non-executive director, to a middle manager coaching and supporting a graduate trainee. Anyone can benefit from this sort of approach, but it is particularly relevant for high-potential staff (at every level in the organisation).
  • Bring in people from the "business" or other functional areas to talk to the procurement team – a great way of getting close to stakeholders and to learn about their roles, requirements and what they want from procurement. In our experience, they will also end up feeling more positive about procurement, and the team gain useful knowledge and insight.
  • Use team meetings as learning sessions – really a less formal version of the first point above. Think about how team meetings could be used to spread good practice. Perhaps a couple of people are chosen each time to speak for five minutes about something they have learnt recently – what worked well, what didn’t. Team meetings should not just be boring updates on company performance and “what my sub-team did this month” sessions.
  • Develop a knowledge management approach – capture examples of good practice (and bad practice), tools, ideas, and experiences. Carry out post-project reviews after every procurement project or incident (e.g. a tender, a supply crisis), get regular feedback from internal stakeholders and suppliers too and feed that into the knowledge management “system”. Then make sure the team can and do access it on a regular basis to improve their own performance.

(More ideas tomorrow …)

 

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