Details Involved in Procurement Talent Management

As you may have realized thus far, procurement management isn't a field that you can just wake up one day and start working in. It's a job that requires skills, education, and training in order for it to be done correctly with the best possible results. Businesses cannot simply hire a random person off the street to serve as a procurement officer for them and not expect perfect results--unless they're really lucky and the person has the appropriate background. They need to look for the right people and they need to ensure that they're continually meeting the professional standards that all procurement talent should. Likewise, procurement professionals should ensure that they are meeting those professional standards on their own and that they are taking the appropriate actions to maintain their abilities.

Procurement talent management applies to the people in the field of procurement management and their abilities. This article will look at what is involved in procurement talent management, what value a professional has in the industry, and what businesses need to do in order to help their talent flourish. Also included will be the educational requirements that most procurement professionals are expected to follow and why they should continue their education throughout their career.

Why Businesses Should Pay Attention to Procurement Talent Management

There's quite a bit that is involved with procurement management, and most businesses and companies would rather someone else handle all of it than doing it on their own. It's a practical decision and it removes one major task off of the leadership's regular to-do list, allowing them to direct their attention to other parts of the business. However, it is still a hugely important job and they can't just pass it off to some random Joe-Schmoe and hope for the best. It's estimated that the bulk of a company's spending is managed by the procurement talent they have on staff. That's a lot of control over the company's money that's being handed over and you want to make sure that it's in capable hands. Even when the procurement team isn't being given that much financial responsibility, they still have control over the things that the company needs in order to operate. Having someone acquire the raw materials for the goods that a company produces and them not doing a good job of it--poor quality, wrong materials, unnecessarily expensive, etc.--is going to impact the entire production line and everything associated with the product. To be lax regarding your procurement talent management is simply not a wise choice for any kind of business and can have real, serious consequences.

So if it's so important for businesses to pay attention to their procurement talent and to put in the effort to properly manage them, how can they do that? It's actually quite easy once you take the time to do so and is much like how you would manage any other staff member.

  • Hire the Right People--First things first, you want to make sure that you're hiring the right people for the job. This means looking at their qualifications, education, experience, and anything else that may suggest that they are a worth candidate for your company's procurement team. Utilize resources to attract those candidates: partner with training programs and universities, work with procurement organizations, use focused recruiting tactics, and consider looking at specialties that are outside of the procurement field but are similar (e.g. technical, business, etc.). Actually put in the effort to find the right people instead of expecting them to just come to you.

  • Establish A Hierarchy--While most procurement teams work in tandem with each other, there is still some kind of hierarchical structure in place. A procurement talent structure offers order and keeps thing under control to allow for goals to be met. It divides the workload so things can get done on time, puts someone in charge to handle internal conflict and issues, and generally helps with standard operations. There's a little more organization and it's less likely that tasks will be forgotten. It also makes it easier to collaborate with other departments, as that responsibility can be handed to specific personnel as a primary part of their job.

  • Address Problems Quickly--If any problems develop amongst the business' procurement talent, the business should take steps to address those problems in a timely manner. Some can be handled internally--i.e. through the hierarchy--but there are going to be issues that need to be addressed by the business' upper management due to the significance or severity of the problem. Cross-department issues, for example, often need a third party to come in and serve as a neutral moderator. Both sides are going to want a solution to the problem that is in their benefit and may not be willing to compromise on a resolution that puts them at a disadvantage. If accounting says they never got the receipts and invoices for March and the procurement team is adamant that they sent them, neither side is going to be willing to admit if they made a mistake if there's a punishment in store for whoever's at fault. They'll fight instead of fixing it to avoid consequences for something that might not have been their mistake. Without someone stepping in, it'll just drag out and cause more problems.

    Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Procurement Management course?
  • Provide Opportunities--Once you have procured your procurement talent, you want to make sure that they stick around. Businesses need to provide opportunities for procurement staff to advance and improve themselves in the company just as they would for any other employee. Even things that double as incentives, like job security, promotions, and work environment features, can be viewed as professional opportunities that can retain talent and reduce turnover. In some cases, offering opportunities to procurement staff can also act as an attraction for candidates because you're showing them that they can build an actual career with your company instead of just having a job. Such treatment is also a sign that you respect your employees and that you acknowledge that they have value.

  • Encourage Standards--The are professional standards that procurement talent are expected to adhere to. They can come from the companies that hire them, the suppliers and vendors that they work with, the procurement industry, and the talent themselves. While the details of the standards may differ depending on their source, they do dictate what is and isn't acceptable conduct in the field. They play an important role in the quality of the talents' work, so it's equally important that businesses encourage those standards amongst their procurement staff. Dismissing or discouraging the standards can create problems between staff and management, and may even suggest that business leaders don't actually care about procurement efforts. If you, as the business leader, do not encourage adherence to professional standards for any of your employees, they're not going to want to follow those standards and their work will suffer for it.

The Educational Path Towards Becoming A Professional Procurement Officer

If businesses and companies are going to look for talent who have the right qualifications, then potential candidates need to have those qualifications in order to be considered. There are numerous sources that a person can use to get those qualifications but they all require following an educational pathway. Not everyone follows the same path, but they often make the same stops. This is the general educational and training requirements that professional procurement talent should have.

  • Degree Options--The standard degree option for procurement talent is a four-year Bachelor's degree in a field of study like Supply Management or a similar program like Business Administration. Other business-related degree programs like economics, accounting, etc., or even some for technical-fields are sometimes accepted. Specializations on top of those programs--like a relevant minor, another Bachelor's degree, or a related Associate's (2-year) degree--can also be an acceptable option. These programs can provide the bulk of the training and education that procurement talent will need in a professional setting.

  • Licensing Requirements--Depending on what state you're in or the company you work for, there may be specific licensing that you must have as a procurement officer. For example, if there's equipment that you have to operate as a procurement officer for a company (e.g. forklift to move purchases after delivery), then you may need the proper licensing for that. Any that you have to get are usually certifications that you can get through reputable programs and organizations. The two most common designations are CPPO (Certified Public Procurement Officer) and CPPB (Certified Professional Public Buyer). They're basically the same thing, as they share the same requirements and testing protocols with the same kind of certification. Both are recognized as valid certifications/licensing throughout the world and need to be renewed every five years.

  • Recommended Certifications--In addition to CCPO/CPPB and licensing, there are certifications that are recommended but not required by employers. Most experts suggest seeking out additional certifications from three organizations. The first is the Association for Operations Management (APICS), which offers the Certificate in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certifications. The second is the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM), and the third is the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) SCPro certification. All three organizations offer programs in their respective certifications, as well as access to additional resources and programs that they have available. From a professional standpoint, these extra certifications are what employers are looking for and can increase your chances of being hired.  

  • Additional Training--There is also the option of taking on additional training as part of your education. A lot of employers will offer training opportunities to their employees as a part of their job training, which will likely be specialized to the company. That kind of training can be very extensive and will put your skills to the test, so be ready. As with the recommended certifications, you can seek out additional training on your own without being prompted by your employer or by the procurement industry. This could be training on new technology or services being used by the industry, or continuing education efforts to keep yourself up-to-date with your peers.

Why Continued Professional Development is Important

Professional development is a term that is used to describe any formal education or training that a person goes through for their job that brings their abilities to the level set forth by their industry's standards. When you take on additional education and training after you've finished your original degree and have meet the requirements of your profession, it's considered to be continued professional development. An example would be going to graduate school to get a Master's degree when you've already got a Bachelor's. There are a lot of professions that do this, like those in education or administration, and it's a normal expected action in those fields. Not everyone does it, per se, but it is option.

For procurement management, continued professional development can be incredibly important and can provide you with an advantage over your peers. Most treat any continued educational efforts as a means of maintaining their skills and/or an opportunity to improve themselves professionally. With how much change and progress there is throughout the professional world and in the economy, this factor alone makes it a very valuable option when it is done correctly. It's the introduction of new practices and technology in the procurement field makes it a necessity. If a business chooses to advance in its practices, then all of its staff needs to advance as well for things to continue working effectively. In some cases, it has to be done in order for the business to survive in its industry or in the economy.

Employers often expect their employees to make an effort to continue their professional development in some way, and will have rewards (e.g. promotions, pay raises) to those who successfully do so. They may provide incentives for employees to encourage them to take courses or get additional certifications, like partnering with the organizations that offer the training programs or paying part of the course fees. Unless you plan on retiring within the next year--which may render such efforts moot--or have other circumstances preventing you from doing this yourself, you should take these professional development opportunities when they present themselves for your own sake.