All posts by Procurious HQ

Some Procurement Lessons Just Can’t Be Taught

Not everything in life can be taught. Why is attitude more important than aptitude…(and almost everything else).

taught a class

David Hearn is the Chief Advisor at CPO Advisement Services, specialising in effective change management and the successful implementation of eProcurement tools.

With 20+ years leading direct and indirect sourcing and procurement groups under his belt, David has some great advice to offer regarding the importance of building good relations, retaining millennials with challenging roles and what defines the procurement talent gap.

David keenly asserts that the attitude of his employees is of the utmost importance. Only with a good attitude, good relationship building skills and effective collaboration can you build a successful career. Everything else can be taught.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

My first job was as an engineer for General Motors where I was responsible for sourcing parts.

I moved on to the telecommunications company, AT&T. As a system consultant here I developed skills in selling, influence and relationship building. 

My third job was at Sun Microsystems as global sourcing manager. Whilst here, I honed skills gained from my first two jobs and learnt more about business partnership. 

2. What’s one thing you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

 I wish I’d understood the importance of building relationships with the people you work with, internal and external. Good working relationships enable you to accomplish so much more, faster.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

There are a number of ways to retain the enthusiasm of millennials in the workplace. Don’t given them boring, stereotypical procurement roles. Instead, craft new roles which allow them to learn on the job whilst delivering tangible results that they can be proud of.

Millennials want to contribute to the common good so it’s a good idea to find projects for them which have a positive impact on the world.

Finally, it’s a smart move to rotate millennials through multiple roles quickly.  Keep them learning, motivated and challenged.

4. Does the procurement talent gap exist? Or is it just as perception problem?

The only gaps are in soft skills such as relationship building, influence and collaboration. These skills are necessary in order to be a success as a trusted business partner.

5. What’s more important for your hires – attitude or aptitude?

Attitude – 100 per cent. Anything else can be taught but you can’t teach attitude.

6. What key skills are critical for procurement in the next 5 years?

  • Relationship building
  • Collaboration
  • Influence
  • Selling
  • Leadership

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

Setting KPIs for Beginners: Why Bother?

An introductory overview of the role and relevance of KPIs to support Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).

KPIs article 1

In this three-part article, we discuss some of the different KPIs that are used specifically for SRM. This list is by no means exhaustive; it can’t be, as performance indicators must be relevant to your own organisation, customers, and requirements.  However, this list can be used as a guide and can become an essential part of your toolkit.

We’ll also review some of the popular ways people measure and monitor KPIs through systems and reports. Again, this won’t be an exhaustive list because of cultural and technical requirements unique to every organisation.

You’ll also find some key tips for implementing KPIs successfully, including a checklist (more tools for your toolkit!).

We will explore how dashboards can be a fantastic tool for procurement professionals to use when communicating to stakeholders and promote hard-won benefits to the business. An effective dashboard will include KPIs that demonstrate how suppliers or categories are being managed and their impact on the business. Remember, the KPIs you set may influence senior management decisions. Therefore, you need to get it right.

Why bother with KPIs?  

To get started, let’s talk about why we use KPIs.

As procurement professionals, we’re responsible for making smart purchasing decisions that support the values and principles of procurement, such as probity and value for money. These decisions must also support the philosophy and strategy of individual organisations. Importantly, we need to be able to justify and document how (and why) we’re spending money.

KPIs can help us justify spend. In fact, KPIs can be used to identify risk, cost savings, innovation opportunities and successes, value-for-money initiatives, customer satisfaction and any number of other factors that we or our customers feel is important.

The role of a supplier KPI is vast. They set the performance standard and have measurable features used to identify areas of improvement, such as establishing a baseline, identifying where you want to be and developing a path to get there. But it doesn’t stop there – KPIs can also be connected to payment milestones, credit payment and liquidated damages.

The important point to remember is that supplier KPIs must be agreed upon by all parties involved. If your supplier doesn’t know what is expected of them, they won’t be able to comply, let alone excel. That’s just one side of the relationship.

The other side of the relationship involves the professionals within the buying organisation. How do you, the procurement professional, know which KPIs to use? Are cost savings important? Delivery times?  ISO standing? Inventory reduction? You won’t know unless you ask your customers about their requirements.

So, why are KPIs important?

What gets measured gets done. KPIs are a way of ensuring your supplier focuses on your fundamental business needs. We can do this through:

  • Incorporating our customers’ requirements into the KPIs to align supplier performance with organisational goals.
  • Providing constructive feedback (rather than punitive criticism). Why? Because the end goal is a win-win situation where you get what you and your customers need, while the supplier gets to improve its reputation and build its business.
  • Promoting a continuous feedback loop using KPIs to drive supplier performance, initiative and improvement. KPIs should be linked to the terms of the contract but remember, the focus is on the relationship. Indicators should therefore reflect the “spirit” of the contract as much as the “letter”.
  • Bringing clarity to overly generic contract requirements to drive meaningful performance.

Challenges in KPI management

Here are some common challenges that we’ve seen through our own experience:

  • Capturing the data – identifying the relevant data and accurately acquiring the data points.
  • SRM fatigue – motivating yourself, your team and your suppliers to continue SRM activities over the life of the contract, which can be months or even years. Activities can easily become stale and sometimes you’ll need to push them along.
  • Comparing and contrasting suppliers – supplier performance will be very different depending on their size, sector and region. Ensure you’re comparing apples with apples.

Engaging end-users is important

When driving supplier performance over long-term contracts, we want to keep things moving so end-users don’t feel that nothing is happening. Keep end-users in the loop, ensure their voices are heard and let them know how things are progressing.

We often focus on senior management as our primary “customer”, but the end-user is arguably more important – especially when it comes to compliance. After all, they’re the ones who will use the product, system or tool that is being purchased.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, which will explore the different types of KPIs, complete with a KPI checklist and contract-level KPI reports.

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve with Process Automation

Traditional supplier relationships are under scrutiny as organisations assess capabilities for the future. Could process automation help procurement teams stay ahead of the curve?

process automation
Image courtesy of Opus Capita

ProcureCon Europe 2016 is rapidly approaching! The ProcureCon team has been investigating some of the fast-moving issues which are affecting CPOs across Europe today.

Perhaps more than any other factor in the industry right now, process automation and advanced analytics are having a huge effect on the ability of Procurement teams to deliver improved cost performance.

This changing landscape calls into question traditional supplier relationships. Of the CPOs and Heads of Procurement we interviewed in advance of the event, 76 per cent told us that they are concerned about the ability of their existing supplier base to serve their business needs in future.

At the same time, more than half of our research participants think that implementing automated procurement is a high priority for their business. This raises questions about how best to manage your supplier network to make sure that you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to process automation.

We spoke to Kelly Babbit from jCatalog and the Opus Capita Group to find out more.

ProcureCon: How is digitisation and process automation affecting CPOs today?

Kelly Babbit: In the digitised, networked economy, companies find themselves in a changed competitive field. The game is no longer primarily based on unique business relationships.

The success of a corporation is premised on the performance of its network of supply chains – its entire business ecosystem. Corporations are looking to strengthen relationships, and create new forms of collaboration – and gain control and compliance over their extended business processes.

It is significant that more than half of respondents to this research gave high priority to the implementation of automated procurement processes. Furthermore, we expect a future adjustment to the demand drivers and criteria used for selecting P2P service providers.

This trend is due to a far-reaching shift in business priorities toward digitisation and automation.

What kind of processes are we talking about?

Progressive solutions cover the complete process from sourcing to payment – from managing the first request for quotations (RFQ) to optimised working capital management and supplier settlement.

This is where the traditional view of P2P processes needs to be expanded. Enterprises will no longer evaluate the quality of solutions with a sole focus on basic procurement functions. Solutions need to be part of a global strategy and based on pivotal interconnections between buyers and suppliers.

As a result, the responsibilities of the CPO and CFO functions will begin to converge. Cloud based SaaS solution providers will need to support this interconnection with a global perspective and inclusion of diverse company stakeholders.

Connecting and automating processes from sourcing through to payment will become the expectation of leading companies.

What features should CPOs / CFOs be looking out for in a source-to-pay solution?

Cloud-based business network solutions must support effective sourcing, procurement, invoice, and payment automation. This includes implementation and adoption across their global business.  Some of the key features to look out for are:

  • Complete transparency, real time control and compliance with full audit trails across the entire source to pay process.
  • P2P automation and integration of the purchasing department with the accounts payables department. Plus full visibility to all purchasing and accounts payment data.
  • Visibility to company spend with total cost monitoring and supplier performance tracking as well as contract improved contract compliance.

Thanks very much for your time, Kelly.

To read the full results of our research amongst 100 CPOs and senior procurement executives, download the Procurement Challenges report here.

ProcureCon Europe, now in its 17th year, is Europe’s most strategic procurement conference for CPOs and senior procurement executives. See the full range of topic and speakers at the event here.

6 Ways to Attract and Retain Procurement Talent

Procurement job openings are on the rise and, as organisations squabble over the best talent, it’s important to make sure you’re doing the right things to attract the crowd you want!

how to attract top talents

Recent studies reveal that the number of advertised procurement and supply chain roles increase by 22 per cent each year, demonstrating a huge demand for talent in the industry.

As more people consider making the move into a procurement role, it’s important for organisations to find ways to attract the best possible employees.

I’ve come up with six innovative methods that will help you to attract, and then retain, the top talent out there.

1) Emphasise Your Standing Within the Industry

The position your company holds within the industry plays an important role in a potential candidate’s decision to apply or not.

Demonstrating extensive experience and knowledge of your industry will show candidates that you are a firm to be taken seriously. It’s crucial that you explain the influence your company has within your sector by highlighting the key successes you have enjoyed.

2) Offer an Attractive Salary

If you want to recruit the best talent, you need to offer a competitive wage. It’s important that you look at what similar businesses are offering, and how you’re able to match it.

If an employee is deciding whether to go with you or another employer with a better wage, chances are they will pick the higher salaried position. If you can’t quite match the salary your competitors are offering, investigate how to make your position seem more attractive by offering employee benefits and rewards.

3) Provide the Training and Support Needed to Succeed

Showing that you value your staff and take their development seriously is a great way to attract talented professionals to your available roles – think what training or support you can offer that will encourage professional growth.

Those who are serious about their career will actively seek out any opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge. Employers who can’t offer a competitive wage may find that by showcasing the importance of training and support within their company, they can still attract a high calibre of talent.

By providing the training and skills needed to succeed, you’ll show a determination and passion to help your employees climb the career ladder.

4) Stay On Top of Industry Trends

Is your company making any broad moves to digitise how its employees work? The procurement and supply chain industry is continuously facing rapid technology change. With new software and developments changing the way the industry works, you need to stay on top of these changes in order to attract the best staff.

The latest E-procurement software allows businesses to smoothen out operational processes. By having up-to-date tools, you will demonstrate to both current staff and potential candidates that you are keen to stay ahead in the technology game.

5) Clearly Articulate the Skills Required

When advertising your job offerings, it’s pivotal that you understand the role fully.

Fully articulate the skills and abilities you’re looking for and you will attract the relevant procurement staff. Being thorough and clearly describing the role will show talented individuals that you know your industry.

6) Forging Strong Relationships with Other Departments

Procurement seeks out new ways for organisations to work, throughout every department in the company. It is essential that your procurement department have strong relationships with other members of the organisation in order to work effectively.

When advertising new positions, demonstrate how well departments work together and how the role of procurement comes into play within your company. This will help to show potential candidates just how seriously you take procurement.

Attracting the Right Candidates to Succeed – In Summary

To appear attractive to potential candidates, it’s important that you speak their language.

Using the correct business jargon, thoroughly explaining the role and outlining how your organisation is beneficial to their career success will help you draw in the right people for your procurement roles. Knowing the industry will also help to retain your best talent.

With the procurement sector receiving a huge demand for roles, it’s vital you find how to reach the right people who will not only work for you but stay with you too.

Adam Maidment is a content writer for Portfolio Procurement, a procurement recruitment specialist which focuses on managerial roles through to executive appointments in procurement, category management and leadership.

Not Worth The Money – Will Entrepreneurs Avoid Business in Britain?

The Great British Pound is in trouble again this week and it’s making budding entrepreneurs think twice about their business plans.

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Talk of a Hard-Brexit Sparks Global Concern

The pound plummeted to a 31-year low last week sparking global concern. The crash followed Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement on Sunday 2nd October, which revealed a firm timeline for triggering Article 50 and the beginning of Brexit. Extra fuel was added to the, already well-stoked, fire when the media reported that she would opt for a complete break from Europe- a “hard brexit”. Reports  already suggest that a “hard brexit” could result in a loss of 70,000 jobs and cost £10bn in tax receipts.

With the pound sitting at $1.27 against the US dollar, chancellor Philip Hammond scuttled to New York with the hope of reassuring America’s biggest banks about the consequences of Brexit. He will try to convince the Wall Street powerbrokers that London will maintain its position as the world’s leading financial centre once the break from the EU is complete.

The pound is also falling against the euro this week, hitting a five-year low and continuing to escalate concerns.

Weak Pound Triggers Rise in UK Services Sector Prices

The dropping value of the pound is already affecting the UK services sector as input prices rose to a three and a half year high in September 2016.

David Noble, group CEO, CIPS, said: “Firms raised their prices in response, to counteract increased costs for fuel, food and elevated wage bills and as the weaker pound had an effect.”

Companies demonstrated their concerns at the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit implications through their reluctance to forge ahead with confidence.

“It’s clear that the pace of expansion has cooled since the first half of the year, reflecting widespread concern about the potential future impact of Brexit”, David commented.

Is Brexit Scaring Off Entrepreneurs?

The aftermath of Britain’s Brexit referendum back in June 2016 saw a strong display of optimism from many entrepreneurs. Indeed, a survey conducted by the Financial Times confirmed that the majority of founders and investors had confidence in London retaining its status as Europe’s biggest center for start-ups. But, is there a change in the wind?

Diana Paredes, CEO & Co-founder at Suade Labs and passionate entrepreneur spoke with Business Insider last week about the effects Brexit will have on entrepreneurship.

She questions why anyone would opt to start a business in the UK given the current economic climate. Operating in London adds a premium in terms of housing and talent and people often see the many business opportunities on offer as a justifiable compromise for quality of life. However, with the future so uncertain, is it worth the risk and sacrifice?

Existing organisations might also be keen to relocate their bases to elsewhere in Europe where it is cheaper to operate, less isolated and they can continue to be regarded as a European company and not simply a British one. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, what are your thoughts? Is the dropping value of the pound enough to make you run a mile from UK business? Let us know in the comments below.

Find out what else has been happening in the world of procurement and supply this week…

Samsung in Trouble Again

  • It’s been a month since Samsung recalled its new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 7, following several cases of it exploding and injuring customers.
  • The company have been issuing replacement devices to customers who bought Galaxy Note 7 phones.
  • However, a Samsung recently started smoking uncontrollably on a flight before takeoff, forcing the cabin crew to evacuate the plane. This could lead to a second recall and a disastrous outcome for Samsung.
  • Google announced its Pixel smartphone this week and could be well placed to steal a whole host of disappointed Samsung’s customers.

Read More at Business Insider

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars

  • Uber’s self-driving car pilot program may want to fasten its seat belts after the bumpy beginning it has reportedly gotten off to.
  • The cars have reportedly gotten into accidents and ignored traffic signs during testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Whilst it is still very early days for self-driving cars, it’s believed that they are, ultimately, inevitable given the overall, enticing end-game which should see the cars combatting road deaths.

Read more at Tech Radar

Supply Chain Leaders Pressured to Embrace Climate Change

  • Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) meets next month in New York with the current cri de Coeur being “bold climate action”.
  • Analysts have observed that multinationals must raise their ambitions by investing in climate finance, transition to renewable energy, and find more innovative was of ensuring resilient supply chains.
  • As well as encouraging change in organisational culture to embrace clean energy and other climate solutions, BSR insist that supply chain managers join Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) managers in becoming .intrapreneurs.
  • Supply chain managers can – and must – play a major leadership role in addressing the alarming consequences of aberrant global weather conditions.

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Drones Tested for Emergency Cell Service

  • Verizon Communications is testing the deployment of large-scale drones to provide mobile connectivity in emergency situations when the land-based cellular network has been damaged.
  • The drone which is being flown by American Aerospace Technologies, is nothing like the small, quad copter devices flown by amateurs at home. With a 17-foot wingspan, Verizon’s drone more resembles the types of unmanned aircraft used in the military.
  • Data gathered in Thursday’s trial will be shared with the FAA in order to help craft future rules regarding drones, Verizon said.

Read more at Fortune

Time Poor at Work? There’s An App For That!

We’re all aware of the concept of ‘time poor’. At least in a work setting, there’s an app or two to help you out.

app-for-that

Do you frequently feel like you’re short of time at work? Most people start the day with great intentions of how much they’re going to get done. But throw unexpected meetings, phone calls, e-mails and tasks into the mix, and all of a sudden time feels like it’s running out.

Happily, there’s a plethora of apps on the market that can actually bolster your efficiency levels at work. Everything from note-taking, file-sharing, to expense claims and networking can be easier with the help of an app.

And, of course, if you need an app to help with your procurement knowledge and networking, you can download the Procurious iOS app!

Dropbox

Digital storage and file sharing has been revolutionised by Dropbox. It has simplified the way people work together by allowing people to securely store and share files and collaborate on work, whether they’re working alongside each other or on other sides of the world.

Dropbox Business comes with as much storage as a company needs.

Slack

Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool launched in August 2013. It helps teams communicate and carry out everyday activities like filling out expense reports or scheduling meetings.

As well as cutting down on inter-company e-mails, it also saves valuable time from switching around different applications to do everything you need to handle at work.

Locomote

Companies of all sizes use Locomote to simplify corporate travel and to save costs. Locomote enables organisations to ditch the long email threads and spreadsheets to authorise bookings and claim expenses on any device anywhere in the world.

Feedly

This app enables to you monitor content on industry websites using websites’ RSS feed. The site allows you to collate everything you need to be reading in one spot.

Google Drive/Google Apps

This is a safe place for all your files, photos and videos and include a suite of productivity tools utilised by executives around the world.

Asana

Team and task management tools such as Asana and Basecamp make it easier than ever to track who needs to handle what aspect of a project, and where each project is at. Give your team access and empower them to update the management tool at each stage of the project.

Evernote

A great place to capture what’s on your mind, whether that’s the minutes from a meeting, today’s ‘to do’ list and share your ideas on any device. Great for note-taking on your phone and then emailing to your PC.

Way We Do

This app helps businesses get teams to consistently and diligently follow procedures in their day to day workflow. The app allows you to organise one to 1,000 team members to create and use an operations manual, meaning you can make policies and procedures a daily routine.

LastPass

This is a great app to help you improve online security while also removing the hassle of remembering passwords. It allows you to create complex passwords that you don’t have to remember, with the app logging you in securely.

Buffer

The app that enables you to multi-stream content across social media. This is a great tool if you or your team needs to schedule company social media content for the month ahead.

Cozi

This app allows everyone in your team, or family perhaps, to access the shared calendar app. This means you can put appointments in the calendar that everyone can see, and you can see what others will be doing next Wednesday so you don’t double-book, for example.

Expensify

This app helps simplify your accounts by allowing you to import scanned receipts, which can be matched to expenses. This means you no longer have to manually type in expense details.

You can also import your cash, credit card and other billable expenses, or directly import your bank account details to manage your business and personal credit cards from your mobile device.

LinkedIn

A successful business owner needs to keep on top of your competition and networking. The LinkedIn app is a great way to do this.

You can network with people in your industry by connecting to other relevant people, businesses and groups.

BRiN

Created in collaboration with over 250 business experts around the world, this provides free business advice and access to a video and audio library covering 80 topics, with more updates to come.

This chat interface enables BRiN to understand and pinpoint your business problems and give you solutions and recommendations within micro-seconds.

Pocket Save

This app, previously known as Read It Later, allows you to ‘save’ an article or web page to read later. This means that next time you come across an article, video or link you really want to read, but you’re about to step into a meeting, you can save it to read later.

You can also save articles from your email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #17 – Harness the Crowd

Stuck for innovation ideas? Need help with your next project? Maybe it’s time for you to harness the power of the crowd.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Harness the Crowd

Lisa Malone, GM – Europe at Procurious, talks about how procurement can lead organisations in harnessing the power of the crowd, and the concept of ‘hackathons’ in order to drive innovation.

‘Hackathons’ provide an opportunity to work on the business, rather that in the business, and give employees the change to take time out and come up with new ideas, and communicate and collaborate with people they would not have the opportunity to do this with otherwise.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

Get Your Career in Harness

If you enjoyed Lisa’s Big Idea and you want to hear more from her, then you’re in luck! Lisa was one of the career coaches for the Procurious Career Boot Camp.

You can hear Lisa’s podcast on using social media as your secret weapon in your career, and how social media platforms are fast becoming an indispensable tool for procurement professionals.

Also, if you’ve missed the other podcasts, then all is not lost. Enlist here, and you can catch up on topics from becoming a CPO, to taking your conscience to work.

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 17,000 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

There’s More to Public Sector Procurement Than Red Tape

Public sector procurement frequently evokes the image of red tape, governance, and over-the-top bureaucracy. The truth is something else entirely.

red tape public sector

This article was written by Kate Brown, Head of Procurement for the Eastern Shire Purchasing Organisation (ESPO)

It’s that time of year again when the new students are heading off to University. And as usual, perennial favourites such as IT, law and sociology remain the courses in most demand for another year.

Sadly it would seem that procurement hasn’t made the top 10 most popular courses list again. I would imagine it would struggle to make the top 20. So what needs to be done to raise procurement’s profile and help attract new, exciting talent to our profession?

We all need to do our bit to help raise the profile of our profession. It’s not uncommon for those at graduate entry level to come for an interview with us with little understanding of what the role of a procurement officer actually entails.

So clearly there’s a job to be done to help educate school leavers and graduates as to what a career in procurement has to offer – beyond buying things and saving money. As we all know, it’s a challenging and varied career and CPOs are increasingly becoming important members of most boardrooms.

Challenging the Public Perceptions

In the public sector, we have a reasonable pool of procurement talent available. However, attracting new and experienced professionals from outside of our sector has always been a challenge. It’s fair to say that in our experience, we see limited movement from private to public sector or vice versa.

There’s always been the perception that the public sector is less challenging, but far too bureaucratic. The Government’s continuing spending squeeze isn’t helping things either. Many candidates are keen to avoid the public sector altogether because of fears over long-term job security.

However, the public sector has a lot to offer both those starting out in their procurement careers, and experienced practitioners alike.

For example, as a professional buying organisation for the public sector, we work with and provide national solutions for a wide variety of customers. These include local and central government, schools, universities, hospitals and charities, through to unique organisations such as the House of Commons and the Royal Opera House.

Our procurement officers procure a vast range of goods and services. From asbestos removal services to biomass, from catering equipment to domiciliary care, from training services to wheeled bins, and everything in between. So it’s a diverse and challenging environment in which to work and requires a whole raft of commercial skills.

Of course, salaries are always going to be part of the debate for anyone considering taking a role in procurement, but there are obvious advantages here too.

As you would expect, everything in the public sector is transparent. There’s a published salary for each pay grade, and a clear pathway for moving up the career ladder. And flexible working is offered to allow for a better work-life balance.

Growth and Success

In a bid to attract graduates to ESPO and grow our own talent we launched our graduate recruitment scheme in 1984.

Each year we take three or four individuals on to our graduate programme to train to work as procurement officers. Each trainee is assigned to a team and is given a mentor to support their progress through the scheme.

Our graduates work with us full-time and one day per week they attend university to study for their MCIPS qualification. This training is funded by us and our graduates are also given time to study and sit for their exams. We currently employ 30 of our past graduates and five current trainees. This makes up a total of 74 per cent of our procurement staff.

I am a graduate of the scheme and worked my way up to my current position as head of procurement. Our first ever trainee is now our head of catalogue and supply chain, so we’ve both proved that career progression within the public sector is possible.

Hope for the Future

There are many advantages to working in public sector procurement. It can be an attractive place for people to come and learn the trade, receive the support they need to further their training, and enjoy a diverse and challenging career.

Business and management was the most popular university course chosen this year. Surely there’s hope that procurement’s popularity will start to rise in future.

Clearly its profile needs a shake up and regardless of whether you choose to be in public or a private sector organisation with the right focus and enthusiasm, both paths will offer a challenging and rewarding career for those starting their working life.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

Myth or Reality? Minding the Talent Gap

Is the procurement talent gap a real concern? Or is it a false perception thanks to a talent shortage instead?

minding the gap

David Lyon, Head of Procurement at Cancer Research is quick to dismiss the idea of a procurement talent gap. He explains why the real problem is a lack of depth, and what we should be doing to address this.

David also highlights the importance of keeping millennials engaged and excited, what he’s learnt about the benefits of good project management and why aptitude and attitude go hand in hand.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?  

I started out as an assistant merchandiser at a Hong-Kong-based clothing manufacturer before acting more formally as the in-house, UK-based representative for the same company within the, as was, Burton Group.

I subsequently moved into the sourcing of clothing and textiles, where I predominantly sourced for womenswear at a major UK-based manufacturer. 

2. What’s one thing you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

Firstly, I wish I’d known the value of having a clear direction and plan from the outset.

Secondly, the vital importance that good project management plays in bringing an organisation onside, when conducting any complex activity involving more than one person. 

Even in a senior leadership position, I find myself looking back to effective planning as critical in charting the course of procurement’s development in the organisation.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials? 

The best way to retain millennials is by providing them with constant exposure to new experiences.  Millennials typically want to grow and learn in short bursts. They rely on technology for the operational basics, which would have traditionally been developed over a longer period.  

Millennials expect to access information in a user-friendly format, at their fingertips, and a dynamic and fun working environment.  Without these factors, retention will become increasingly difficult for organisations that want to have the best talent. 

4. Does the procurement talent gap exist? Or is it just as perception problem?

There is not so much a talent gap as a talent shortage. We have a number of really skilled procurement professionals in many organisations. However, we lack the depth in these areas, which means that there feels to be a gap between where we are now and where we want to be. 

We need to continue to promote and advertise the function to attract some of the right skill sets from other functions.

5. What’s more important for your hires – attitude or aptitude?

Both. Attitude is important with regards to the way employers go about what they do. Aptitude is needed in order to be able to deal with difficult circumstances.

I believe technical knowledge to be of lesser importance. I can buy those skills in as necessary, or train or develop, which is often a great investment in induction and personal development when we have a new hire.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

Don’t Lose Career Direction – Get a Career Coach

Do you want a clarity and vision in your career? Do you have a life plan and a coach? Maybe it’s time to start looking for one.

coach

Without a clear vision and a plan to back it up, where are you going?

After coaching executives for the past 15 years, speaking nationally at conferences and authoring books, I have seen an incredible increase in employees hiring a life coach or strategist to enable them to become better versions of themselves both professionally and personally.

We are not taught at school vision creation, life and the wellness skills that are the foundation piece on which we can grow, evolve and flourish.

We tend to go into the work force, work hard for years and end up in places sometimes by chance. Or we follow a pathway and lose that connection to ourselves, and our why, and feel like we are on the treadmill of life.

Successful People

Successful athletes, business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs all have a great team around them in order to shine. They invest in their skills, gain support from their coaches and generally want to be their best both on and off the field.

The United Kingdom Coaching Strategy describes the role of the sports coach as one that “enables the athlete to achieve levels of performance to a degree that may not have been possible if left to his/her own endeavours.”

Why Have a Coach?

When it comes time to build your personal brand, create a business plan, life strategy and gain clarity on what you really want to do moving forward a coach is a very powerful asset to have.  Just some of the benefits of working with are coach are:

  • Increase self confidence
  • Gain clarity on your direction and what is essential for you
  • Understand you own set of values as a decision making tool
  • Improve your time management
  • Better work life balance
  • Creation of boundaries
  • Improve communication skills
  • Have accountability to someone
  • Declutter your life and get rid of the drainers you have
  • Find the blind spots that may trip you up in the future
  • Create a proper life plan to avoid making wrong decisions
  • Find the shortcuts through using their expertise
  • Gain more insight into yourself
  • Work and conquer your limiting beliefs
  • Did I say clarity clarity clarity!
  • Simplify your thoughts and put into a plan of goals and actions for 1-5 years

Why I Personally Have a Coach

A coach should have a coach! It is a bit like being a personal trainer but not training yourself. I think it is essential that the coach be coached to stay sharp, up-skilled, and to really know and understand what it feels like to be coached.

Plus, we all need to grow, we all need to constantly learn and move with the times, so it is an investment for me that is critical for my own success.

I employ a coach for 6 months of the year, each and every year. It is a non negotiable for me as a business owner, wife and mother. The coach keeps me true to myself, never allowing me to lose the balance, give up what is important to me as I might get swept away in my career. They help with really identifying what is essential for my business to be a great success and really work for me.

I learn from my coach, my boundaries and comfort zones are explored and tested, and each year I want to grow both personally and professionally.

Without a coach, I know I would not be where I am today. And if I had tried to do it all on my own I wouldn’t have advanced so quickly. I am committed each day to growing and evolving and to being a better version of myself and the coach can assist with the tools, support and accountability that I need to be this person.

Also, it is incredible to have someone on my team that is 100 per cent behind me!

What’s Stopping You?

As we’ve seen during the Career Boot Camp, the value of coaching and mentoring in procurement is obvious. Our Career Coaches have talked about it, and our leading CPOs have highlighted the value in their 60 Second Interviews.

Just because you are progressing in your career, doesn’t mean you don’t need a coach or mentor. And it’s great to see that, in procurement, so many of our senior people have had great coaching and mentoring experience. And what’s more, they’re willing to be a mentor for someone else too.

As they say, the best in the world have a coach so why don’t you?  What is the cost of not having a coach come in and up-skill, support and open up your world?

Shannah Kennedy is a life coach and best-selling author, who has worked with a number of high profile global organisations. Find out more about Shannah’s work on her website, and check out her best-selling book, ‘The Life Plan’ here.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!