What does it take to move procurement from a tactical function in the accounting department to a strategic role within the supply chain?
As procurement moves from a tactical function in the accounting department to a strategic function within the supply chain, procurement professionals’ jobs are changing too. What does it take to be an effective, successful procurement professional? Here are our top 5 traits that the successful procurement professionals seem to share.
1. They possess excellent negotiation skills
Procurement professionals must scrutinize every contract and negotiate the best prices for their companies while remaining courteous and fair to suppliers. Successful relationships only exist when both sides benefit, and procurement professionals who work to make vendor relationships positive end up with the best long-term results.
Professional, diplomatic negotiation and communication skills are a must for procurement professionals, as is the drive to make it simpler for their companies to do business with. To foster convenient, efficient relationships, it makes sense to provide suppliers with simple, expedient ways to respond to interact with an organization. Self-service vendor portals are one way, using procurement software to empower vendors to respond to requests for quotes (RFQs), electronically submit invoices, and maintain their address and contact data.
2. They embrace technology
The procurement process is under powerful pressure to transform— to leverage technology to make the entire process more strategic. To fully leverage technology, procurement professionals need to continually grow their skill sets. By 2021, Gartner predicts that 55 percent of technology procurement staff will require additional business, digital, and analytical skills to realize business innovation and growth.
The procurement department is traditionally one of the most paper-intensive places in an organization, so technology tools are a tremendous asset (if not a necessity). The best procurement professionals understand the value they add to the organization comes from the ability to problem solve, negotiate, delegate, and communicate — not their ability to track paper requisitions throughout the office. To maximize the value they add to the organization, procurement professionals must embrace technology and the benefits it provides.
3. They are detail oriented, yet have a big picture view
Procurement professionals are often very detail oriented, organized people, and such attention to the fine points is a tremendous asset in the job. But so too is the ability to see the big picture, long-term strategies that benefit the organization by advancing efficiencies and productivity. The most effective procurement professionals balance the details with the overall mission.
An eProcurement solution is an ideal way to help ensure the details don’t get lost. By automating workflows, incorporating controls and user-level security settings, eProcurement frees procurement professionals from having to continually focus on the minutia, empowering them to think big, formulating strategies instead of chasing paper.
4. They are fiscally responsible
It might seem obvious that individuals controlling the spending practices of an organization should be fiscally responsible, but it’s such a fundamental quality for procurement professionals to possess that we include it here.
The best procurement professionals possess a broad understanding of financial management principals and other quantitative information, ensuring the decisions they make are fiscally responsible and respectful of the organization’s budget. They seek out best practices in procurement, benchmarking performance, and continually seeking improvement.
5. They are service minded and great communicators
Great procurement professionals identify the needs of their customers and find the best ways to meet those needs. Building stakeholder and supplier relationships based on trust, mutual benefits, and innovation while still delivering value is a core requirement (and no easy feat) for procurement professionals.
To develop these skills, one must be an expert listener and an even better communicator. A procurement professional’s ability to communicate, listen, and build strong relationships can make a difference in a corporation’s success or failure.