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.


To ensure the ongoing viability of the program, it is critical to measure its success. One example of an organization that recognized the need to accelerate their procurement capabilities and quantify any benefits realized is BP p.l.c (BP). BP made a conscious decision from the top down to develop, enhance and drive long-term value through enhancement of its procurement organization. At the onset, BP established a baseline of its current procurement capabilities. They understood and bridged to each individual's performance expectations and their commitments for the year. With this approach, when the outcomes were reviewed in eight to 12 months, they could determine if the program enhanced performance as compared to results from previous years.

The areas BP measured were:

  • Program effectiveness through communication programs with key stakeholders;
  • Timing of the program execution by examining rollout plans;
  • Additional savings derived from total cost of ownership (TCO);
  • Comparison of savings achieved before and after the program rollout.

Due to their initial success, BP is maintaining this program and has made it sustainable through hard work and strong leadership. In recognition of these efforts, BP received the 2006 Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) R. Gene Richter award for leadership and innovation in supply management in the "People" category.

Create a Sustainable Learning Environment

Ideally, a program to accelerate procurement capabilities should be viewed as an intervention to provide a swift step improvement in skill sets in support of delivering savings and long-term business value. However, many of the features of this program should be developed into a sustainable learning framework for procurement professionals throughout your organization, such as:

  • Creation of a "pull" for learning;
  • Inclusion of expert coaching in order to take the application of skills to the next level;
  • Assessment of skills gaps being consistently calibrated;
  • Personal learning plans being informed by skills gaps, relative importance of skills and ability to apply learnings;
  • Proactive management of selection into each learning module;
  • Program management in creation and delivery of learning plans;
  • Learning modules covering total skill sets required, not just technical procurement areas;
  • Measurement of learning impact on stakeholders.

The sustainable learning framework will reach the whole procurement community and should also include mentoring and knowledge management.

This program is not for everyone as it is dependent on an organization's philosophy and its strategic view of procurement. If your organization would benefit from assessing and growing procurement talent through these three steps, then this type of program would fit into your organization and help to:

  • Satisfy voids in skill sets needed to be a best in class organization;
  • Take current high skill personnel and reposition them within the procurement organization with the correct knowledge and tools;
  • Fill the pipeline in their organizations with individuals with the correct skills to plug the void created by retiring staff and talent shortages.

If these are reflective of your organization, then the concept of "in-house growing" may be the right approach to enhancing your procurement capabilities.

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