As a bidder it's always interesting to see how things are changing on the other side of the table, and CIPS's Supply Management is a fantastic publication for tracking how procurement experts across the industry and shaping buying teams and best practice.
It's interesting to see that procurement teams now value change and leadership skills over technical capability, with leaders including Jim Noone (Lafarge Holcim) are looking for people who are more capable in influencing, communicating and listening.
This feels like a positive trend for bidders and suppliers across the industry. I, like many suppliers, have found myself at the end of a 'computer says no' type procurement activity - where neither the client nor our team are happy with the outcome. Having procurement teams who can roll with the punches and procure smartly should mean we get better designed, competitive and fun to work on (yes that does exist) tenders that draw out the best from bidders and avoid cut and paste processes.
More people able to mould, shape and think creatively on both sides of the table should also leads to better outcomes for clients. Procurement teams are often the first place the C-Suite look to save money, and being able to manage change and intelligently re-shape categories, buying arrangements and agreements means it's not cost-cutting but value adding that procurement teams get known for.
But perhaps looking for this new breed of procurement expert is creating a demand the industry can't meet. Over 80% of procurement leaders have said they struggle to recruit the right people into senior management roles and it doesn't look like the shortage of good candidates will be sorted any time soon.
The panel’s thoughts were echoed in the results of a recent survey of procurement leaders carried out by Supply Management magazine. The survey of about 80 CPOs found the top ranked skills viewed as most critical to progression in procurement were leadership (61%), change management (48%) and influencing skills (41%). In comparison, technical procurement skills were ranked as less important, with supplier relationship management chosen by 15%, negotiation by 8% and sourcing by 8%. The survey found the top most challenging skills to find when hiring were influencing skills (54%), leadership (44%) and internal stakeholder management and collaboration (37%). It also found that 83% of procurement leaders were finding it very hard or somewhat hard to hire talent into senior management procurement roles, and 82% were finding it very hard or somewhat hard to find middle managers.