The Transformation of Procurement, from Transactional to Personal

There are not many professions that can claim to have been the drivers and the recipients of significant change in recent times but Procurement has done both.

The function proved its’ invaluable worth as a business enabler and success driver throughout the recession, utilising years of well-honed contract management and negotiation skills to bring organisations back into the black.

Now that the economy has found its’ feet however the tide has turned and demands for change from the function are coming through thick and fast. Procurement is being asked to undergo a dramatic revolution, transforming itself from an extremely efficient, transactional cost-cutter and negotiator to a business partner with relationships rather than contracts at the heart of every strategy.

Whilst these demands for change will undoubtedly see the profession flourish and enable organisations to compete more effectively in the global market place, there are some key variables that need to be in place for such a transformation to be successful; namely the talent tasked with making it happen.

As a result our brief as professional procurement recruiters has changed. We are looking for people who can engage with stakeholders and sell the procurement function to the rest of the business. They must be able to think strategically, with an ability to foresee demand and build relationships that can help facilitate this demand. To achieve all this they need to be highly personable, articulate and engaging as well as commercially minded with the ability to crunch numbers, dot the I’s and cross the T’s.

Even with access to extensive talent networks it will still take some time for skills to catch up demand, although steps are being visibly taken to try and move things along.

Active promotion of procurement to graduates is gradually building up the talent pipeline in key areas. Use of mentoring strategies within the workplace is helping to coach existing talent and bring them up to speed. Utilisation of external training providers is engendering new skills and ensuring transformation projects have a greater chance of success.

Despite this, careful planning around the talent pipeline is essential if an organisation wants to support procurement in becoming the highly influential, strategic business partner that today’s market demands.

Finding a good recruitment partner with an extensive network will be instrumental in making this happen.

Hayley Packham