In today’s fast-paced environment, upskilling your procurement team is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. As a procurement leader, you need to understand industry trends to train your procurement team—and empower them to drive innovative solutions, deliver unparalleled value, and become strategic partners in your business growth. To stay ahead of the curve—you must learn, adapt, and evolve.

The success of any organization relies heavily on its procurement team’s strategic approach to efficient procurement and sourcing practices. Over time, business leaders have increasingly turned to procurement not just to acquire products and services but for insights that inform strategy as well. As procurement teams have gained greater visibility within their organizations, they have had to adapt the tools, capabilities, and mindset required to enhance their value. This transformation has been driven in part by emerging technology, resulting in the formation of hybrid procurement teams that combine experienced professionals with younger, tech-oriented individuals.

In the first installment of ProcureAbility’s ‘Future of Procurement’ Insights series, we explored leading strategies for recruiting top talent to meet the demands of the procurement department. In this second installment, we delve into what it takes for procurement leaders to build successful teams from within, focusing on their internal dynamics and strategies.

Start with a solid foundation

Whether your procurement team consists of experienced professionals or young employees launching their careers, they all require additional development of skills. This requires fostering a team culture that emphasizes continuous improvement, innovation, and cross-functional collaboration. Motivate your team to stay updated on industry trends, enhance their negotiation skills, and cultivate strong supplier relationships.

Your team needs clear guidance and a solid foundation for success. In today’s evolving operational landscape, this translates to:

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Defining clear objectives by outlining your procurement department responsibilities and goals with the organization’s strategic vision, to provide a clear sense of purpose and direction for team members. For example, what are your organization’s goals around supplier diversity and risk management?

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Developing a structured team composition based on your organization’s procurement needs, considering roles such as sourcing specialists, category managers, procurement analysts, and supplier relationship managers, ensuring a balance of skills and expertise.

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Implementing clear processes and workflows to streamline operations and ensure consistency, including clear documentation of sourcing strategies, supplier evaluations, and contract management procedures.

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Providing new procurement technology and tools to enhance efficiency and accuracy, including the latest procurement software that can automate processes, facilitate data analytics, and improve decision-making. This could include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for demand forecasting and data analytics for supplier performance evaluation1.

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Building strong supplier relationships by emphasizing collaboration, mutual growth, and innovation—elements that generate better supplier performance, reduce risks, and increase value2.

Training and development

With these enablers on hand, the next ingredient for success is ensuring your team’s skills and capabilities remain not only relevant but differentiated as well. A well-trained procurement team is better equipped to navigate the complexities of global supply chains and risk management. That kind of training and development takes focus and dedicated resources.

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Identify existing skills and capability gaps, looking at areas such as negotiation, market analysis, contract management, and supplier relationships. What are your team’s strengths? What skills are underrepresented? Where could you build a deeper bench?

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Provide training and development opportunities to enhance skills by investing in workshops, webinars, conferences, certification programs, and employee learning budgets to help your team advance their knowledge in specific areas.

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Leverage industry-recognized certifications through third-party service providers or organizations such as ISM3, Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM), and Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), whose qualifications enhance professional credibility and open doors to advanced roles4.

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Partner with an external entity for training and development of your team. Such partnerships often bring forth industry experts with a fresh, external perspective and specialized knowledge that can enhance the skills of the procurement team. These partners typically have a wide range of proven methodologies, tools, and techniques that have been successfully implemented in diverse industries, which can be tailored to the organization’s unique need.

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Continue to provide training opportunities on an ongoing basis, keeping your team updated with industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies. Continuous learning and development foster employee engagement and retention, thereby contributing to the overall growth and success of your organization.

Focus on building out the right kind of culture

Strong culture and leadership are essential to your procurement organization’s cohesiveness and ensures clear communication and alignment with your organizational goals. You can start building the right kind of culture today by considering the following best practices:

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Support cross-collaboration with other departments like finance, legal, and operations to create mentorship opportunities and infuse procurement strategies across the organization.

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Create a culture of continuous improvement where team members are encouraged to seek innovative solutions, learn from mistakes, and contribute ideas for process enhancements. Encourage your team to regularly review and refine processes and seek feedback from internal stakeholders and suppliers to drive ongoing enhancements.

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Implement a recognition and reward system that acknowledges exceptional performance, providing motivation and supporting job satisfaction among team members. Establish clear performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of procurement initiatives.

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Prioritize employee well-being by promoting work-life balance, flexible work arrangements, and mental health support.

Put your procurement recruiting process under the microscope

When it comes to building a world-class procurement team, it’s likely you’ll need to bring in outside talent even as you look to develop your team internally.

Reflect on your previous recruitment efforts: Did you successfully compete for qualified candidates? Why or why not? Are you able to identify the most successful new hires and the qualities they possess? The improvements you make from the recommendations above will surely help attract the right people. Recruiting people with a specific culture in mind, for example, will help drive the kind of change you want within your organization.

Finding the right partner is essential to ensuring you have the resources and insights to build a world-class procurement team. ProcureAbility brings the expertise and experience needed to help you train and develop your team’s talent, build a strong and resilient culture, and analyze your recruiting process.

By strategically addressing the aspects above and collaborating with outside experts, you can create a procurement organization structure that is well-equipped from top to bottom, aligned with your organization’s objectives, and primed for sustainable, long-term success.

In part three of ProcureAbility’s ‘Future of Procurement Talent’ Insights series, we will explore effective strategies and best practices for retaining top procurement talent, through creating a supporting work environment that boosts job satisfaction, engagement, and long-term commitment.

Notes:

1 Procurement Technology Acceleration

2 A Human-centered Approach to Managing Relationships With Suppliers

3 ismworld.org

4 sig.org

Author

Kim Neisen

Director of Talent, ProcureAbility

How we can help you

ProcureAbility partners with your procurement organization to help develop and train your team. Whether it be technology training or process oriented, we serve as a resource for providing sustainable ways for our clients to position their procurement teams for success.

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