Developing Procurement Skills – Without Spending a Penny (Part 2)

This week we have been looking at the need to develop procurement staff in the light of worrying findings in the recent Deloitte CPO survey. 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 that at minimal cost. Yesterday, we gave you five ideas that drew on internal resource and cost nothing in hard cash terms, and today we have five more “free”  ideas, these using external resources.

External resource

  • Read Spend Matters! Well, we would say that wouldn’t we. But really, there is a huge amount of information, knowledge and insight freely available on the various Spend Matters websites, as well as on sites from CIPS, consulting and software firms and so on. We try and tell you about some of the most useful here, such as the Deloitte survey, the Future Purchasing Category Management study and so on. You could combine this with one of yesterday’s ideas too – why not take a Spend Matters article, or one of the findings from the CatMan report, and use that as a basis for a “read and discuss” session at a procurement team meeting?
  • A similar approach can be taken with books. There are more good, useful and readable books about our topic than ever before, and I don’t know anyone in the profession at any level who would not benefit through reading and study of the best. Read Sigi Osagie for general inspiration; Magnus Carlson to understand why IKEA succeed; Andrew Cox to have your brain stretched; Czerniawska and Smith to learn about buying professional services … the list is endless! Again, discussing with others what you have learnt is the best technique to get something useful out of your reading.
  • There is also a huge amount of free online training available, whether that is film of conference speeches and similar, or specially and specifically designed training videos. Just while browsing around for this article, I came across this for example, which looks interesting and useful.   There is a series of good basic Procurious videos like this, and literally hundreds of other examples. Software firms like Trade Extensions are another source of good content. Again, using this sort of material can be through private study or something that you do in a group situation. (Editor's late note - don't forget podcasts - see Philip's comment below!)
  • Peer best practice groups exist in many formats and industries. For many years, I was part of one we called the Strategic Procurement Forum, which had around a dozen CPO level members who met to discuss key topics and challenges that we faced. This sort of “soft benchmarking” as you might call it can be incredibly useful – testing your own ideas, learning from others, sharing good practice. If you can’t find one already that meets your needs, you could start something new, and it does not have to be at CPO level either. Category level groups exist too, and can be just as worthwhile for the appropriate people.
  • Clearly some conferences charge for attendees, but not all do so. Procurex and eWorld are just two we’ve attended recently that were free to practitioners and provided a lot of very strong material to delegates. If you are in a senior role, you might even get a free ticket to one of the events that charges generally – the organisers can attract more sponsors if they have a lot of senior delegates, so you can sometimes use that fact to negotiate. But even just in terms of the free events, this can be an important element of training and development plans.

First Voice

  1. Philip Ideson:

    Hi Peter, these are all great suggestions. I have just one more to add that is also a shameless plug, but listening to podcasts – be it procurement related like Art of Procurement – or related to supply chain, broader business etc is a great way to learn especially while doing things like commuting, traveling or down the gym.

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