Procurement Skills and Capabilities – How Is the Picture Changing?

Before the last BravoSolution Real World Sourcing briefing session, we asked delegates to complete a quick survey. We looked at how they thought the skills and capabilities needed by procurement professionals had changed over the past ten years, and how they thought they would change over the next ten.

Bear in mind this was a pretty small sample, around 25 people, but the results are worth considering anyway as they highlight some thought-provoking issues. The sample was around one-third public, two-thirds private sector by the way, with a slight skewing to a more senior, experienced and somewhat older group than a random sample of procurement folk might have given.

 Comparisons with 10 years ago

Perhaps not surprisingly, most people felt that most of the skills and capabilities we listed are needed now at least as much as they were needed in the past – a reflection perhaps of the increasing challenges and complexity of the world generally.

But the areas where most people felt the need for capability has increased were these, with the percentage figure indicating how many respondents felt the factor was “slightly more” or “much more important” in 2014 compared to 2004.

Risk management                                          94%

Strategy development                                   88%

Technology understanding                          88%

Supplier relationship management            88%

Comms and influencing skills                      88%

No factor scored more than a quarter of respondents saying it was needed “much less” or “slightly less” today. So there is little that has dropped off the capability agenda in the past ten years. “Tenacity and determination” and “legal knowledge” were only two factors with more than 15% marking at those levels. But that doesn’t mean they are les important absolutely, more that our delegates saw them perhaps as relatively less important these days. (I don’t think I would necessarily agree actually, certainly not for tenacity which is a much under-rated attribute).

 Looking into the future

When we look at how people see the requirements of 2024, as against today, there is a high degree of commonality with the looking back data. We tend to extrapolate the past into the future, so that is not surprising. But there are a couple of significant points. Here are the leading areas, again using the scores for “will need a little / lot more” of these factors.

The top marks for “slightly more” or “much more important” in 2024 cf 2014) were:

Risk management                          83%

Strategy development                   71%          (highest number of “much more important”)

Technology understanding          71%

SRM                                                      71%

Networking and collaboration    71%

In terms of factors which are expected to be less important, again nothing scored more than a quarter of respondents saying “much less” or “slightly less.” But “deep category knowledge,” “category management” and “negotiation” were all around that level of response.

So in part two, we’ll look at what all this might mean.

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