To quote the Peter Parker principle: with great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes the need for a greater skillset.
No matter what position they hold in the organization, every procurement professional should possess “must-have” soft-skills and attributes including communication, adaptability, resilience, and business acumen. In order for a Sourcing Hero to be successful managing several categories, they’ll need to acquire an entirely new set of “harder” skills.
In this article, we list the top six procurement skills that will take your Sourcing Hero abilities to the next level.
If you thought your research days were behind you when you finished college, you were mistaken. Research is a critical skill that enables Sourcing Heroes to gather market intelligence to support them to keep costs down, mitigate risk, and anticipate future disruption. Intelligence can be sourced via desktop research, through your supplier ecosystem, through third-party intelligence providers, and even with the help of cognitive procurement AI.
Research requires patience, commitment, curiosity, and the ability to critically judge the quality of the information you’ve uncovered.
It’s no good gathering data if you’re not going to put it to use. Sourcing Heroes use data analytics to guide decisions, reduce supply chain risks, evaluate supplier performance, predict future demand, and more. Data analytics requires technical know-how, critical thinking, data visualization skills, and presentation skills for communicating insights to others in your organization.
Supplier Relationship Management
Leading procurement professionals know that although immediate savings can be generated by simply choosing the cheapest supplier, much greater value can be gained over the long-term through Supplier Relationship Management (SRM). Benefits include continuous improvement, a higher likelihood of supplier-led innovation, better customer service, reduced costs, increased efficiency, and less price volatility. SRM requires highly-developed soft skills such as influencing, leadership, change management, and the ability to get the best outcome for your business in a negotiation without damaging a long-term relationship with a strategic supplier.
Looking beyond cost
What sort of value can your categories bring to the organization beyond cost reduction? The motivation to look beyond the purchase price is driven by factors including the overall focus of your organization, the current economic climate, and the maturity of the procurement function. Factors beyond purchase price include lifecycle or Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), ethical, social, and sustainability considerations, along with improved innovation. Moving beyond costs requires a new way of evaluating suppliers, and may also require influencing and communication skills as you convince business stakeholders of the value of looking beyond the immediate purchase price.
Aligning with company goals
For the procurement profession to continue to thrive over the next decade, it has to remain relevant. Sourcing Heroes, therefore, need to link their activities, KPIs, goals, and targets to those of the wider organization. This is not the CPO’s sole responsibility.
Keep in mind that enterprise-level goals are fluid, and can change dramatically in circumstances such as an economic downturn or with the commencement of a new CEO. To help with alignment, Sourcing Heroes should employ the same language as that used by the organization and avoid procurement jargon. They should be able to articulate how each of their procurement-focused activities contributes to company-wide business objectives.
As Sourcing Heroes, procurement professionals are expected to be able to shift out of tactical mode to start thinking – and behaving – strategically.
Strategic thinking involves stepping back to consider the bigger picture rather than focusing solely on the immediate problems at hand. This isn’t always easy to do so, particularly in under-resourced teams. In this situation, a Group Purchasing Organization can take on the day-to-day management of a category, freeing up the sourcing professional to think strategically about value, cost, risk, sustainability, and to make a plan.
Do you have what it takes to be a great Sourcing Hero? At Una, we strive to be your partner in procurement. We're here to help you harness those skills to form and execute a holistic procurement strategy that saves you money, time, and effort.