Procurement is a critical business function that requires a unique set of skills and expertise. As such, to succeed in this field, procurement professionals must possess various competencies, ranging from negotiation and supplier management to risk assessment and financial analysis. These competencies are essential for ensuring that organizations can secure the goods and services they need at the best possible value.

Additionally, with the increasing complexity of supply chains and the growing importance of sustainability and social responsibility, the role of procurement professionals has become more critical than ever. In this article, we will explore some of the most essential competencies for procurement professionals and how they can develop and enhance them to excel in their roles.

Strategically measure purchasing performance

Strategic measurement of purchasing performance is critical for any procurement department to succeed. This involves developing key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance and using data analytics to analyze purchasing data and identify areas for improvement. However, failing to strategically measure purchasing performance can have significant impacts.

Without KPIs and regular audits, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the procurement department, which can lead to inefficiencies, missed opportunities for cost savings, and potential compliance issues. As such, it is important for procurement professionals to prioritize strategic measurement of purchasing performance to ensure their department is operating at its best.

• Establish KPIs to evaluate the procurement department’s performance.
• Analyze purchasing data and identify areas that need improvement using data analytics.
• Conduct regular audits to ensure compliance with procurement policies and procedures.

Improve spend management by implementing a buying plan

Effective spend management is crucial for any organization’s financial health. It involves optimizing procurement processes and reducing costs while maintaining the quality of goods and services.

• Ensure cost-effective purchasing by developing and implementing a strategic sourcing plan
• Conduct a spend analysis to identify opportunities for cost savings and optimization
• Develop and maintain relationships with suppliers to negotiate better terms and pricing

Identify and select the best suppliers

In today’s global marketplace, identifying and selecting the best suppliers is critical for the success of any organization. In order to achieve this, cross-functional commodity teams are used to evaluate suppliers and their capabilities.  When procurement professionals don’t have the proper competencies, they may fail to identify and select the best suppliers, leading to increased costs, poor quality, and decreased customer satisfaction.

• Use cross-functional commodity teams to identify potential suppliers and evaluate their capabilities
• Use scorecards to compare potential suppliers and make informed decisions
• Use total cost of ownership analysis to evaluate the long-term costs associated with a supplier

Improve vendor performance through a supplier performance management program

Vendor performance is critical for any business that relies on suppliers to provide goods or services. Unquestionably, without a robust supplier performance management program, companies may find themselves struggling to monitor and improve the performance of their vendors. When your team lacks the competencies of procurement professionals, they may allow the entry of poor-quality products, missed deadlines, and cost overruns.

• Develop a supplier performance management program to measure supplier performance and identify areas for improvement
• Use data analytics to monitor supplier performance and identify areas for improvement
• Develop and maintain relationships with suppliers to improve performance and drive innovation

Optimize supplier relationships

The inability to optimize supplier relationships can have uncommon but devastating negative consequences. When done right, developing and maintaining relationships with suppliers can lead to long-term business success. On the other hand, when a member of your Team does not have the necessary competencies of procurement professionals, their skills gap may introduce struggles to stay aligned with their suppliers, leading to delays, missed deadlines, and increased costs.

• Develop and maintain relationships with suppliers to establish trust and collaboration
• Use strategic supplier management to identify opportunities for value creation
• Leverage technology to improve communication and collaboration with suppliers

Improve risk management

When going through a checklist of competencies of procurement professionals, including the ability to improve risk management in any procurement activity. Properly identifying and mitigating risks is essential to ensuring success and sustainability. Neglecting to do so can result in serious consequences, such as financial loss, reputational damage, and legal ramifications.

• Develop a risk management plan to identify and mitigate risks associated with procurement activities
• Use data analytics to monitor supplier risk and identify potential issues
• Develop contingency plans to address potential disruptions in the supply chain

Map and improve processes

Inefficient procurement processes can lead to a host of problems, from higher costs to missed opportunities and decreased productivity.
• Map procurement processes to identify areas for improvement and optimization
• Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure consistency and compliance with procurement policies and procedures
• Use process improvement methodologies, such as Lean and Six Sigma, to improve efficiency and reduce waste

Leverage technology

In today’s world, where technology is rapidly advancing, organizations that fail to leverage technology in their procurement processes may experience various negative consequences. Procurement technology can help organizations to streamline their procurement activities, reduce costs, improve compliance, and drive efficiency.

Organizations with procurement professionals without the necessary data analytics skills may lack the insights needed to make informed procurement decisions, which can lead to missed opportunities for cost savings and optimization. Additionally, organizations may struggle to manage their contracts effectively without contract management software, resulting in non-compliance and legal risks.

• Streamline procurement activities and reduce costs by using eProcurement and Internet Reverse Auctions.
• Use data analytics tools, such as Excel, to analyze purchasing data and identify opportunities for improvement
• Ensure compliance and reduce legal risks by using contract management software to manage contracts.

Conduct benchmarking

Staying competitive requires organizations to continuously improve their operations. Procurement benchmarking is critical for organizations to evaluate their performance against industry peers and best-in-class organizations. Failure to conduct benchmarking can lead to missed cost savings, efficiency improvements, and process optimization opportunities. In addition, not being able to benchmark can result in falling behind industry standards and losing a competitive edge. Thus, it is imperative for procurement professionals to conduct benchmarking on a regular basis to identify best practices and opportunities for improvement.

• Use benchmarking to identify best practices and opportunities for improvement
• Benchmark against industry peers and best-in-class organizations
• Use benchmarking to identify opportunities for cost savings and efficiency improvements

Develop negotiation skills

Negotiation skills are crucial in business, and failure to negotiate effectively can lead to significant consequences for companies. A prime example of such a failure is the Volkswagen emissions scandal that came to light in 2015. The company had been caught cheating on emissions tests for its diesel vehicles, leading to significant financial and reputational damage. In this case, the root of the problem was the company’s lack of negotiation skills when dealing with regulators.

In negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Volkswagen failed to disclose the existence of software in its diesel vehicles that was designed to cheat on emissions tests. The company initially denied any wrongdoing and even went so far as to blame the issue on a few rogue engineers. However, it was eventually revealed that the cheating had been widespread and deliberate, with top executives being complicit in the cover-up.

The failure of Volkswagen to negotiate effectively with the EPA led to a $15 billion settlement, making it the largest consumer class-action settlement in U.S. history. The company’s reputation also took a significant hit, with customers losing trust in the brand and sales declining.

Volkswagen’s case is just one example of how failure to negotiate effectively can have devastating consequences for companies. In many cases, negotiations are critical to the success of a business, and poor negotiation skills can lead to missed opportunities, damaged relationships, and even legal issues.

• Apply negotiation techniques to achieve favorable terms with suppliers
• Understand the unique considerations in international negotiations
• Develop strategies to overcome common supplier tactics and avoid negotiation mistakes

From the strategic measurement of purchasing performance to benchmarking, procurement professionals must possess the skills and expertise necessary to navigate the complex landscape of global supply chains while ensuring their organization secures the goods and services it needs at the best possible value.

Neglecting to invest in training to develop these competencies can lead to inefficiencies, missed opportunities for cost savings, and potential compliance issues. The impact of a procurement team with underdeveloped competencies goes beyond procurement operations and affects the entire organization. Therefore, it is essential that organizations invest in training to hone and develop these skills to ensure their procurement professionals excel in their roles and drive long-term business success.

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Published On: April 6th, 2023Comments Off on Top Competencies of Procurement Professionals