BravoSolution Real World Sourcing: Procurement Skills and Careers – the next ten years

Last week we held the latest in the BravoSolution Real World Sourcing briefings in London, with me leading the session titled “Procurement Skills and Careers – the next ten years”.

In like many of these events, where we have had a body of knowledge to discuss (risk management, SRM for example), this was much more about opinions and speculation. To look at the key skills that are likely to be needed over the next ten years, we have to consider how procurement might change, and how that will determine the nature of the people in the function and the skills that they will require to succeed.

If you look back over the past 30 years, the biggest change in procurement has been the move away from a transactionally based role to being more focused on “strategic sourcing” and covering far more of the organisation’s third party spend. The changes have been pretty dramatic, and there is no reason to believe they won’t be any less rapid over the next ten years. My personal view is that we will see much of the “sourcing” activity that we currently see as core (running RFXs and so on) automated and delegated to users and budget holders, much as the same thing happened to transactional work in recent years.

So procurement will need to re-define itself again, with a greater focus on strategic supplier management, increasing commercial understanding throughout the organisation, defining the procurement governance framework (including risk, technology approaches, analytics), and working on collaborative projects (internally and externally) designed to deliver real value. The concept of “unit cost reduction” as the key driver for procurement will (hopefully) fade in most organisations and category sectors, although it will still have a place in certain circumstances of course.

That means some different skills will be needed, with a greater focus on people who can work in a collaborative manner, knowing when to be tough and when to be use empathy rather than shouting to get what they want! Analytical skills and an understanding of what technology can do for procurement will also be key in many roles.

That’s my view anyway, but we also ran a survey amongst the delegates, looking at how they felt the skills required had changed over the last ten years and were likely to change again over the next. We’ll present the results of that here shortly as well.

And in the meantime, you can download a set of the slides here – and if you attended this (or other) Real World Sourcing briefings, don’t forget you can take the on-line accreditation “test” and be considered for the end of year celebration dinner in December for the top ten participants. The overall winner will be announced at the dinner and will receive £2500 to spend on training and development courtesy of BravoSolution’s generosity.

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