13 for 2013: Procurement Talent Observations (Part 1)

A lot of our research work has made us realize that there is a significant disconnect between typical levels of expertise within procurement organizations, and actual talent requirements necessary to deliver the types of programs and results that executive management and shareholders increasingly expect from the function are hard to find. Moreover, the fact that we know three individuals that come from the procurement world (consultants and executives) who have somewhat recently gotten into procurement recruiting by starting their own executive search firms points to the fact that there is demand to up-skill the function.

This topic definitely requires some more digging – and we'll do so far with greater frequency and clarity on Spend Matters and Spend Matters PRO. But in this series, starting today, we'll make thirteen short observations and statements going into 2013 regarding the world of procurement talent.

  1. Bifurcated salary distributions are continuing to create two classes of procurement manager and executive – top performers (which are a proven commodity) and everyone else.
  2. As a follow-up to (1), the most important benchmark/KPI for results is compensation. Indeed, show us how much a procurement organization is compensated at all levels and we'll tell you how they're performing relative to peers (note: it's important to separate out transactional from strategic roles).
  3. Top talent is worth top prices – there are rare bargains in the market. Expect to pay at or more than market to attract talent to organizations that have historically underperformed. After all, those with a track record don't want to tarnish what they've accomplished nor do they want to take unnecessary risks in jumping around.
  4. Certain skill sets such as P2P/procurement technology leads, specific category skills (especially on direct side) and related are in demand and can be challenging to fill – very challenging. Plan extra time in a search.
  5. You can still take advantage of geographical differences/arbitrage on regions and skills. For example, someone in Minnesota might be just as skilled as someone in NYC or Chicago in commodity management. But unless they're at Cargill, they're going to make less.
  6. Hiring former consultants who do not want to travel as much is becoming a preferred strategy. But finding the right candidates is key! Far too many former consultants will fail to thrive in a corporate environment that is not the right fit or if the timing or other factors are wrong.

Stay tuned for the rest of our tips in the next part of this post. And if you're in the UK, do check out Spend Matters new jobs board!

- Jason Busch

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