• CPO - staff development

Research & Insights
CPO Job Description: Developing Procurement Staff

This is part 5 of our "CPO job description" series, which takes an in-depth look at the role of the chief procurement officer. Our previous installment can be read here, which started the discussion of how a CPO must manage procurement staff. 

In this edition of our ongoing series in exploring the CPO job description, we will outline the CPO responsibilities for:

Managing the skills and competency development of procurement staff, including training development and knowledge management capabilities

This doesn't just include understanding how a modern talent management process works, as briefly described in our last series installment. Nor is it just about managing the “demand side of talent management,” meaning what skills/competencies are required for certain jobs, or what processes are needed to achieve certain outcomes. It is, in fact, about supplying the firm with the right training competencies and knowledge management capabilities to fill the skill/competency gaps.

A CPO must also be able to execute on a “talent management upgrade” in terms of not just overhauling the jobs,and hiring (or externally sourcing) new staff, but also helping the organization to cost-effectively train staff to meet the broader and deeper requirements of the new procurement organization. The core of this process involves developing a skill/competency-based training program that helps staff understand what is required for them to follow different career pathways inside and outside of procurement.

Procurement is becoming a major training ground and proving ground for senior executives (e.g., in formal job rotation programs) due to the variety of commercial and business skills inherent in the function. As such, there is a fair degree of “virtuous churn” of staff pulled into procurement from stakeholder groups (e.g., spend owners, strategic suppliers, etc.) and out into the business (i.e., the “alumni effect”). Therefore, the CPO should be familiar with modern training tools (and third-party services) for skills/competency diagnostics and for experiential learning.

Finally, the CPO must not only lead the management and training of procurement teams, but also identify, manage, train and improve key suppliers. For less sophisticated procurement organizations, just establishing suppliers through effective supplier management processes is a good first step. In fact, a CPO might look to perform “reverse training” where suppliers help educate procurement on best practices exhibited by other top-notch customers of theirs. Such best practices are “transferrable skills” that are only part of the broader talent management equation, but, such “capability management” and measurement activity (which we’ll address later) should also fit hand-in-glove with talent management.

In terms of “knowledge management,” a CPO must work to ensure that firm-specific, stakeholder-specific, industry-specific and other forms of tacit organizational knowledge are explicit and baked into not just training materials, but also into all forms of IP (intellectual property) that procurement can utilize in its ongoing journey and transformation. This helps build and preserve procurement’s “organizational memory” and similarly institutionalizes supply market intelligence that makes procurement processes more effective and efficient.

Stay tuned for future installments of our CPO job description series.

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