Ensure your success by developing these eight must-have skills.
In last week’s post, I introduced the concept of Smart Diversity – hiring smart people without requiring a specific background or education. A smart finance major, marketer or engineer can bring valuable new viewpoints and strengths to a procurement team.
Ultimately, we have found that there is not a single skill or characteristic that makes a procurement professional successful. Rather, there are a number of predictors of success, orprocuremetrics. In her article, “Benefits of a Supply Chain Education,” Jennifer Ulrich identifies the following eight skill sets as ones that procurement professionals must master to be successful.
- Strong aptitude for numbers: As much as procurement professionals want to escape the image of being cost-cutting number crunchers, being a number cruncher is still important. We look for people who are not scared by enormous spreadsheets and can take large amounts of data and boil it down to smart and useful pieces of financial advice.
- Ability to navigate a contract: It may seem obvious, but a successful procurement professional must be able to read, and read into, a contract. Between pricing agreements and legalese, contract documents can be difficult for the average person to understand. But a procurement professional should not flinch while reading the complicated language and should be able to expertly find essential information.
- Skilled negotiator: Negotiation has a bad reputation for being a battle of wills. Good negotiators understand that it is a skill that requires practice, respect and creativity. They also understand what terms can and cannot be negotiated. A successful negotiation often results in better relationships and improved communication.
- Thorough market researcher: A successful procurement professional has a knack for market research and knows the importance of tracking industry trends. You can find them reading industry journals and market reports. They understand that procurement is a constantly evolving field and to be successful, they must continually learn.
- Category expert: A successful procurement professional knows their category inside and out. They understand the infrastructure of it and how to connect the pieces. But most importantly, they know how to apply that knowledge to reduce costs, improve relationships, and stabilize their supply chains.
- Ability to collaborate in teams: Procurement is not an individual activity; it is always a function of multi-disciplinary groups. No matter where you work or what project you work on, procurement professionals will need to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders.
- Change manager: Successful procurement professionals know how to get business done. They understand how procurement works in an organization: who the decision makers are, the hierarchy and organization of their business and the nuances of their internal culture – and they use that knowledge to accomplish their goals. In other words, they are skilled change managers.
- Big picture thinking: It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day world of procurement of changing requirements, vendor compliance and audits. But the best procurement professionals never lose sight of the big picture. They understand how businesses work and that they must never lose sight of an organization’s strategic goals and vision.
While we believe that these eight skills sets are the most likely predictors of success in your procurement and supply chain initiatives, we also look beyond the metrics of the individual and consider the makeup of our entire team. Diversity in education and experience are important when we consider our team as a whole. For this reason, the eight procuremetrics are not an interview checklist, but rather conversation starting points.