Ten Ways to Improve Your Procurement Team’s Capability (part 2)

We commented recently on the Deloitte CPO Survey which contained the worrying statistic that 62% of CPOs felt their own teams do not have the skills and capability needed to meet the procurement function's objectives. That indicated, we surmised, a profession in crisis. The future of procurement is not going to be a glorious one if almost two-thirds of procurement leaders lack confidence in their own teams!

We also suggested that unless a CPO was very new in their job, they have to take some responsibility for the situation. Having said that, it is easy for us to criticise from the side-lines – so we have been constructive and suggested some actions that can be taken to address this situation. Part one was here; all about recruitment. Today, still assuming there isn’t an unlimited pot of money, we’ll look at retention and staff development.

Skills and Retention
6.  One of the best ways of retaining good staff is demonstrating that there is a route for them to prosper and progress within the organisation. Showing that there is a good career path – which might include spells out of procurement in other functions – and stating overtly that you have a presumption to promote from within wherever possible can help to show that you mean it. Nothing is more demoralising for the internal folk than to see some supposed hot-shot drafted in from outside to a top role who then turns out to be a dud.

7. If you are going to work seriously on developing skills, capability and behaviours, you need to know where you are starting from. Individual competence and capability assessment can often be the best way for going about this. It has a cost to do it properly, but you can waste a lot more on inappropriate training and development activities. But make sure staff know why you are doing this. It isn’t a pre-redundancy exercise; it is to make sure that the organisation can help them be as good as they possibly can be.

8. Continuous professional development – there’s an expression that is too often accompanied by a rolling of the eyes, or a long sigh. Yet we all know how important it is. Keeping up with the latest thinking in your category, or around procurement technology, thinking and good practice is vital. Positioned properly, as a positive rather than a tick-box chore, it should be beneficial for the organisation and individuals.

9. And as part of CPD, do make sure you and your staff take advantage of the wealth of events, conferences, webinars and so on that are around these days. Many are free or low cost to practitioners, which helps. Now we’re not suggesting everyone attends everything, but if you’re not doing maybe a couple of major events annually, a roundtable or breakfast briefing or two, and a couple of webinars – then you probably should be.

10. ‘Informal’ internal development routes can be both motivating (retention) and great for development. Internal mentoring of new and young staff; peer learning, with staff running short workshops or briefing sessions on topics they are knowledgeable about and interested in; a “book club” maybe where a group gets together to discuss the latest Spend Matters research paper (!); these are low cost but potentially really good options for the team.

So, as we said earlier, senior procurement folk need to take some responsibility for getting their teams to the point where they do have the ability to develop the objectives of the function. We’d like to think our ten suggestions will help some organisations at least to move in the right direction in terms of achieving that.

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