Assessing and Accelerating the Skills of Your Procurement Staff

An exodus of talent, coupled with the ongoing globalization of supply chains, is forcing organizations to rediscover the merits of developing their most important asset – their people.


  • Developing and executing a strategy
  • Program and/or portfolio management
  • Leadership enrollment
  • Strategic communications
  • Strategic sourcing and procurement tools
  • Financial decision making, total cost of ownership and cost modeling
  • Supplier relationship management.

Once the assessments are complete and mapped to the skill areas by individual, a determination should be done on the gap in skills by area and an appropriate development plan should be outlined to close these gaps. Below is a sample assessment tool chart that can be used to map current skill to preferred skill level and show how much of a gap exists. In this example, the assessor used a predetermined survey with question sheets that were given to the participants.

Figure 1: Agreed Score vs. Generic Norm for Role

Communicate the Program Benefits

A well-structured communication strategy is paramount to any successful procurement capability accelerator program. The organization needs to ensure that the constituents understand the difference between this program and traditional training programs. Four key items need to be emphasized when conveying the message to the individuals who will be participating:

  • Accelerated learning techniques;
  • Work-based learning, i.e., "action learning";
  • A tailored structured learning framework delivered through a compressed timetable;
  • Knowledge management through networking and effective repositories.

One approach is to have the CEO or senior executive send out the initial communication letter to the individuals tagged to participate in the program. This type of communication ensures that the company's commitment to the program will go unchallenged. The next step would be to have a kickoff meeting with the participants to lay out the program, communicate the program details and take the participants through the step-by-step sequence of what they will be doing over the coming months.

Select the Right Participants

The program should be structured so that it compresses two years of personal development into an intensive six-month period using expert, on-the-job coaching. The participants should be selected according to their role, interest level and potential ability to develop further expertise within the procurement discipline. Each participant should be independently assessed against "role model" job profiles, covering a comprehensive skill set (i.e., not just technical). Following this assessment, a tailored "learning" plan should be developed for each individual, informed by the identified skills gaps, the relative importance of each skills area, and the individual's ability to apply the learnings. The program can be managed internally or externally, supported by expert coaches from both internal and external sources. The fundamental design of the program should align the timing of the coaching interventions to business challenges facing the participant, unlike conventional training, which is generically delivered and used on an "opportunistic" basis. In this sense, the program applies skills development to delivery of business results in "real time."

The program should commence with an initial orientation event. Following the individual skills assessments, an induction event is held at which participants receive a tailored personal learning plan that lists the modules deemed appropriate and relevant for them, addressing the skill gaps identified during their assessment, and that includes the coaching hours related to each module. Depending on the company, you may have all participants complete prerequisite foundation learnings. These prerequisites could include management accounting, economic evaluation and stakeholder management. Once these learnings are completed, the program will commence. As stated, the goal is to complete all teachings, coaching and classes within a six-month timeframe. Individuals only complete the modules necessary to fill their unique skills gaps and to achieve the desired competencies for their role.

Measure Success

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