The Analytical CPO: There’s More to Procurement Than Numbers

This post is based on material from the Spend Matters research brief, Changing Roles of Procurement Leaders - The Analytical CPO. Registration is required to access this document – but free access to the content has been underwritten by BravoSolution until December 2013.

As we noted in our last analysis, a basic working knowledge of Microsoft Excel is essential in many procurement areas today. You can possibly get away without this if you’re already working at a senior level, but it is hard to see that any up-and-coming procurement executive is going to survive without being able to construct a decent spreadsheet at some point in his or her career!

Still, there’s more to procurement than numbers. And analytics is not just about the math. So don’t despair if your education was more humanities-based. The principles of analytical “critical thinking” are also important, and are often better taught in the Arts faculties (History, English, Politics) than they are in the science disciplines.

For instance, there are core skills around understanding how to obtain, interpret, and use evidence; understanding the context and reliability of what is observed or heard; using relevant criteria for making judgements; and decision making techniques and methods. These are capabilities we all use every day in our jobs, yet having an analytical approach to understanding the world around us and making decisions is vital for long-term success.

The days have gone when a CPO could say, "I'm not very good with numbers," or “All this analysis is over-rated. I just go on my gut instinct,” and get sympathetic nods from around the room. Times have changed, as have the requirements of the role.

As we suggested earlier, the good news is that there are many tools available to help procurement professionals approach their work in a more analytical fashion, without every CPO having to enroll for their math doctorate. While a good understanding of analytical principles is essential, we think the hard analytical work can be automated in many cases.

Read the full Spend Matters Research brief: Changing Roles of Procurement Leaders - The Analytical CPO (free, registration required). Temporary access to this material is underwritten by BravoSolution until December 2013.

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