Digital transformation is a challenge for any procurement team. It entails new technology, new ways to think, act and purchase. Since talent is a key factor to reach business objectives, we’ve listed 3 tips for CPOs to keep their procurement teams ahead of the curve.
1. Improve the way you train your procurement team
There’s a famous quote that gets shared every now and then on professional social networks. It tells volumes about the matter at hand. A CFO asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”. The CEO replies: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
In procurement, numbers are our best friend. Unfortunately, sometimes they are a little more revealing than we’d like and therefore expose uncomfortable shortcomings. In terms of procurement training, numbers show an unwillingness to develop procurement teams. According to Deloitte’s 2018 CPO survey, 72% of all procurement leaders are spending 2% or less of their operating budgets on training and development programs. This marks an increase of 8% compared to 2017.
However, in times of digital transformation, training and developing a procurement team is crucial. Purchasers need to be able to adjust to the digital supply chain and an ever-changing digital landscape. The capability of adapting new workflows, embracing software tools and new technology like AI is key to reaching your objectives. Establishing digital readiness is one of 3 Procurement Challenges Facing Digital Transformation in 2019, and it can be overcome by continuous training of your procurement team. Technology is always evolving and set to do so at an even faster pace in the future. If you don’t want to get left behind, it’s time to set up a development process for your procurement team.
In order to have proper training and increase performance, however, a clear talent development strategy has to be in place. Unfortunately, that hardly is ever the case in the purchasing industry. Only 16% of procurement leaders are focusing on developing digital skills within their teams. Even though technology such as AI is massively improving purchasing processes, digital procurement apparently still isn’t on the agenda in most organizations.
2. Start trusting in the capabilities of your procurement team
According to Deloitte’s survey, 51% of CPOs do not trust in the capabilities of their team to deliver their procurement strategy. That is somewhat puzzling considering that less money is spent training purchasing professionals. How can you question the capabilities of your procurement team if training in these disciplines is becoming less of a priority?
Our second point is therefore linked to the first: without proper development of talent in your organization, you can’t rely on purchasing managers to execute a digital procurement strategy. And without being able to rely on a team, business processes are only set to become more and more complex in our global and digitized world. In other words: A functioning procurement team requires trust, which in turn requires training.
3. Attract new talent by investing in new technology
That raises a question though. If a procurement team needs to have the right digital skills in order to be successful, wouldn’t it be more efficient to look for young, talented, tech-savvy procurement professionals?
It’s true – young purchasing managers and millennials are quick learners. They grew up in the digital age and therefore are more likely to adapt to digital workflows. That being said, it still takes an investment to attract tech-minded talent. Young purchasing managers want to work with modern software technology in order to develop themselves:
“Top talent, especially those in the millennial generation, will not choose to work in an organization that is significantly behind the latest trends and technologies” 1 , says Lucy Harding, Partner and Global Head of Practice, Procurement and Supply Chain at Odgers Berndston.
Therefore, new technology does not only offer new possibilities to improve business objectives, it also serves as a recruitment tool for an organization. Especially millennials will measure an organization by the technology it utilizes and how it is incorporated in a management strategy.
“It is increasingly important, to attract talent, for organizations to be seen to move in the digital space. If a business is investing in the latest technologies, this indicates that it is up to date with the latest thinking. This attracts people who consider that their career will benefit if they are exposed to innovations in technology”, says Harding.
The fact of the matter is, technologic progress is here to stay. Needless to say, a procurement department cannot afford to be left behind. As value creators in an organization, procurement leaders need to make sure that individual team members are capable of contributing to that value. Just as CPOs have to invest in their existing staff, an organization has to invest in technologies like AI, robotic process automation and the blockchain to attract new talent.
- Deloitte (2018): Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2018