Skills Every Procurement Specialist Should Have

We welcome this post from Adam Maidment, Content Writer for Portfolio Procurement, providers of compensation, benefits and rewards jobs throughout the UK. Adam offers some sound advice to those thinking about, or having just joined, the procurement profession.

Ask anyone in procurement and they’ll tell you it’s a tough but incredibly rewarding industry to work in. Obviously, procurement professionals work with suppliers and distributors on a daily basis and therefore need to be able to possess confidence and an awareness of how the industry operates. But alongside this, what else do procurement professionals need to know?

The Deloitte Global CPO Survey 2016 revealed that some of the main concerns from leaders in the procurement industry were rising risk levels and a general shortage of skills. With Chief Nation and SAP Ariba recently predicting that procurement headcounts would be on the rise in 2016, it’s essential that this shortage of skills be avoided as much as possible. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look into some of the key skills that everyone working within the world of procurement needs in order to stay on top of the game.

Strategic thinking

According to a recent report conducted with over 1,500 leaders in procurement and finance by Chief Nation and SAP Ariba, roles within the procurement industry nowadays need a stronger focus on strategy, showing just how important it is to think strategically. This ability is more than just being able to see things as they are, it’s also about looking into the future for things that might change.

Specialists need to have a curious business mind. Constantly taking calculated risks, thinking creatively and having a keen interest in how the business is performing, not only just within their own department but within the business as a whole, is necessary for employees to get by in this tough industry. If you want to improve your strategic thinking then a good suggestion is to constantly question your own opinions. By seeking out other thought processes and opinions, you’ll have a more balanced view of the situation which will help you make more strategic decisions.

Analysis skills

Whether you're doing a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis or a supply market analysis, being able to conduct an effective breakdown is one of the most important skills needed in procurement.

It’s vital that you have a solid understanding of different markets and how they operate. You should be constantly looking out for risks, key trends, competition and other factors -- having a keen eye for detail is always useful.

Supplier Relationship Management Skills

Companies that have strong, meaningful relationships with their suppliers are able to set themselves apart from competitors. Having a good relationship will mean that you are able to retain your clients and also take advantage of the many benefits that come with.

If you want to stay on good grounds with your suppliers, then it’s vital that you’re aware of their exact and individual needs, are trustworthy, have a friendly and positive can-do attitude and have the knowledge that will help you stand out for all the right reasons. Going that extra mile will ultimately pay off!

Technology skills

The procurement industry is constantly changing and being able to stay on top of new technologies is a must. (As we have reported many times in the past and particularly during our Procurement Technology month here and here  and with other opinion-led analysis here for example.)

The Chief Nation and SAP Ariba report found that 77% of procurement leaders predict that new procurement technologies will be one of the biggest trends over the next 12 months. As technology becomes more intelligent and automates procurement more and more, practitioners will need to be able to adapt and become technically-savvy. Always stay ahead of any upcoming changes; it's important to embrace new software and tools into your on a daily basis.

Teamwork skills

As part of the job role, procurement professionals are always required to work alongside other departments, so it’s beneficial for everyone within the company and to the business that you nurture good working relationships. New and advanced technologies mean that collaboration and sharing between different departments and their supply chains is more possible than ever, and therefore teamwork is becoming an even more necessary skill in 2016.

If you’re looking to improve teamwork skills, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for opportunities to assist your colleagues with work that they’re struggling with. Offering a helping hand with something you might be a little more knowledgable about is always helpful, and you never know when you’ll need help from them.

The world of procurement is constantly evolving, so having the ability to adapt and change direction at the last minute is essential to fitting into the ever-evolving industry.

 

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