The changing landscape of procurement competencies By Vaishali Baid

It is undisputed that procurement has evolved in the last decade – be it recessions, a pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war – procurement has seen it all. With ever changing global dynamics and procurement’s role in businesses, it’s time to pause and reflect on what individual competencies we need for the crucial next 10 years.

In today’s scenario, procurement is not only about looking from a cost savings perspective, but much beyond that. A 360 degree procurement approach today means consideration of environmental, social, ethical, and economic issues within the buying process.

This definition, as easy as it sounds, raises a challenging question – are our procurement teams enabled to perform this? How can we perform and deliver a 360-degree procurement with traditional competencies?

To keep it with the trend procurement needs to focus on three broad competencies:

1. Moving from the traditional backbencher role to strategic level.

2. Capability in bringing a competitive advantage to the business.

3. Implementing and driving sustainability throughout the supply chain.

The report Sustainable Procurement Barometer 2021 by EcoVadis and Stanford Graduate School of Business states reducing risks, complying with existing regulations and delivering on corporate sustainability goals and commitments as the top three priorities within procurement organizations. This is an indication of a paradigm shift in procurement priorities and hence calls for a deep dive into the competencies required to fulfil them.

Reference – Ecovadis Sustainable Procurement Barometer 2021.

Navigating procurement priorities will require devoted efforts by businesses, HR professionals, and procurement leaders to map the competencies required for procurement in the current era.

War for procurement talent

The post-pandemic era has seen a war for skilled procurement talent and businesses are looking for professionals with multiple competencies beyond traditional procurement skills including knowledge around sustainability, social value, ESG, and ethical practices.

Today, if you put a search on LinkedIn with the keywords procurement your screen will be flooded with jobs with various additional elements in procurement. This reflects the changing landscape of procurement jobs and competencies.

Traversing this war will involve persistent efforts and will assist businesses to attract, retain, and develop talent internally.

Conclusion: A Sustainable Procurement Competency Framework

With the recent advent of events, procurement has witnessed the need to re-visit and renew it’s avatar to cater to the changing demands and look into it’s most valuable asset – people.

The below Sustainable Procurement Competency model is geared towards the changing requirements and competencies to develop and retain resources in procurement. This sets a reference to build on the existing procurement skills and competencies.

Tip: Procurement domain knowledge is primary, but skills and competencies are paramount!

Adapted from Schulze, H., Bals, L., & Johnsen, T. E. (2019).

Cognition oriented competencies – critical thinking, system thinking, supplier relationship and engagement management.

Social oriented competencies – communication skills, collaboration – internal and external, global mindset and cultural sensitivity.

Functional oriented competencies – source to contract (including category strategy), source to pay, data & systems, project management skills, sustainability know-how and sector know-how.

Meta-oriented competencies – entrepreneurial mindset, quick thinker, agile and change management.

To keep the pace with the exponential upward curve of the global change these competencies will be vital for professionals to elevate the forward-looking organisations continuing advancement and continue delivering for the business.

Did you know?

Supply Chain Sustainability School Impact Report 2022 states 92% of members said that they were interested in sustainability issues, followed by management skills (44%), procurement (41%), digital (25%), offsite (24%), lean (22%) and FIR (21%). Carbon, sustainability strategy and sustainable procurement are the top three subjects that our members want more training on, similar to last year.

For more information

Vaishali Baid
Sustainable Procurement and Social Value Consultant

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