Three Ways Procurement Can Gain Millennial Appeal

Procurement departments need to start attracting the younger, tech-savvy talent they need to remain competitive

Claire Cunningham
Claire Cunningham

Baby Boomers are retiring at a staggering rate—only 40 percent of Boomers are still working in some capacity. As a result, the workforce is losing experienced and talented employees daily. By 2025, 60 million Baby Boomers will exit the workforce, leaving an enormous talent gap. As Boomers continue to retire, nearly every industry will start to feel the pressure of the talent shortage, but some industries will be hit harder than others—procurement and supply chain being two of them.

Boomers currently make up the largest portion of supply chain professionals, so finding younger replacements now is crucial. However, recruiting Millennials is easier said than done. Millennials are a different kind of worker than Boomers. They seek out a company that continually innovates its processes, technologies and product offerings. Millennials want a job that allows them to make a difference within their organization and doesn’t just give them a hefty paycheck for placing routine purchase orders. If an organization can’t offer these incentives, plus others discussed below, Millennials will take their talent elsewhere.

Here are three changes procurement departments need to make in order to start attracting the younger, tech-savvy talent they need to remain competitive.

1. Get Rid of Clunky, Outdated Systems

Some of the largest companies still use clunky enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or even use manual methods to drive purchasing and procurement processes. While these systems may get the job done, they serve as major Millennial repellents. Millennials already use the latest technology in their personal lives and they expect to use the same tools in their work life. So, when they go to work for an organization that uses the same inefficient, siloed platform that it implemented in 1999, they’re left dumbfounded and turned off by the organization. On the other hand, if they enter an organization that continues to update its procurement solutions to match the best on the market, there’s a good chance they’ll stick around.

2. Get on Board with Real-Time Data

Millennials make data-based decisions every day, whether it’s using Yelp reviews to pick a restaurant or Mint to balance their personal finances. Luckily for procurement departments, Millennials expect to bring the same data-driven decision-making processes and skills into the workplace. Regretfully, though, few organizations have the right tools in place that make this a possibility. Many procurement departments still rely on siloed solutions, giving employees limited access to company data and making it nearly impossible to make accurate, data-based decisions. Without having a fully integrated solution in place that collects, stores and analyzes data from across the organization, employees aren’t able to make more informed, strategic decisions—another millennial repellent.

Millennials don’t want to leave any money on the table and using old technology does just that. In order to make more strategic decisions, they need to have the most up-to-date tools in place. Continuing to rely on old systems will not only impact Millennial recruitment, but it will also put a damper on the company’s bottom line.

3. Create a Defined Career Path

Millennials want to know a career in procurement goes beyond entering numbers into a spreadsheet or cutting routine purchase orders. It’s important to define a clear-cut career path for younger employees so they understand how they can grow within the company and make a larger impact. In addition to growth opportunities, Millennials also want technologies that will grow with them as they move their way up in the company and industry. Having an integrated solution that touches all parts of the organization will appeal to Millennials, as it allows them to diversify their skill sets and gain exposure to other areas in the supply chain they otherwise wouldn’t experience.

Most companies undervalue the importance technology holds. Not only can it impact a company’s bottom line, but it can also influence the way Millennials view an organization and their decision to work there. While it’s difficult to leave old systems and methods behind—especially when older workers remain resistant to change—companies need to start embracing new technologies and get on board with Millennial values.

Claire Cunningham helps companies align their procurement strategies with sound application solutions as part of her role as a solution consultant at spend management solutions provider Ivalua, Inc. From leading numerous procurement software initiatives for packaging giant Pactiv to working with a variety of procurement systems on the strategic sourcing team at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Cunningham has a strong understanding of software capabilities and implementation pitfalls. At Ivalua, she leads large-scale projects in government, financial services and foodservice sectors. She is an honors graduate from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Packaging.

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