Tag Archives: procurement careers

Born Ready or An Old Hand? Balancing Attitude and Aptitude

Skills can be learned, but attitude is something you’re born with. But when it comes to creating your rockstar procurement team, should one really be prioritised over the other?

experience vs attitude

This article was written by Dee Clarke, Davidson Projects & Operations.

“Please find me procurement professionals who have an equal balance of personality and drive and skills and experience.”

I hear this statement from my clients on an almost daily basis. It’s a significant move away from the days when clients would state the five mandatory fields for candidates as:

  • Education;
  • Experience;
  • Years with a company;
  • Size of projects; and
  • Reference checks.

Now, those are just the start of the conversation, and the first step in developing the success profile of potential candidates.

Furthermore, the same clients are asking for psychometric assessments (personality testing) to be conducted on all potential candidates before the shortlist is even sent to them. In the past, this would have only been carried out when the shortlist had been confirmed, if at all.

These key facts point to the rising trend within the procurement profession of companies looking beyond the CV.

Natural Attributes or Learned Skills

So why is attitude so important? And can it really outweigh experience and qualifications when looking at a future recruit?

With strategic partnerships and vendor management a strong focus for procurement teams, there is an increased need for individuals to have effective stakeholder engagement, influencing skills and, overall, a great attitude.

Many within the profession believe skills can be learned. However, attitude is something you are born with. It is, therefore, the more important quality to look for when hiring a new employee.

I personally believe it all comes down to the role in question, and how that person and the role fits into the objectives of the organisation.

Attitude vs. Aptitude – Pros and Cons

Let’s look at some key factors when it comes to recruiting attitude over aptitude.

Cultural Fit

Ensuring a new employee fits with the company culture is important. Not just for the organisation, but also for the candidate to feel comfortable in their surroundings, and ensure they perform to the best of their abilities.

This is where personality testing can come in handy to look at this before they even get to the final stages of interviews.

Communication

The right attitude in a key procurement project lead can make or break the outcome of the project. With the need to liaise with a variety of different stakeholders, both internally and externally, how they interact and communicate with these people is essential to the success of a project.

Training & Support

Hiring someone with limited experience in procurement, but who has the drive and passion to progress their career in this area, needs a large amount of support, mentoring and access to training to become a loyal employee.

This leads me to ask, does your company have that internally, or via connections externally?

Team Balance

In order to be able to hire someone based on attitude over skills, you need to ensure there is already a high level of experience within the team. You need to balance the pendulum, or else you may have a great team culture, but no success to go with it.

Managing Expectations

One of my greatest concerns when a client hires a new employee based on attitude over aptitude is ‘expectations.’ When I take a role brief, we discuss the role and candidate expectations and what will the candidate have to do.

Measuring Success

What will the candidate have to achieve in six to 12 months to be successful in the role? These are usually decided on before potential candidates are interviewed. Once a decision is made to recruit a less skilled person, expectations of the role may need to be adjusted.

Speed of Learning

While, yes, skills can be learned some people develop skills at a slower pace than others so you need to ask yourself before making the final hiring decision, can the role expectations be adjusted?

And how much time can you allow for the individual to develop the skills they are lacking?

Clear Cut Decision?

I do agree that attitude is probably more important than aptitude, but only slightly.

As you can see above, it’s not a clear cut decision or process for future recruitment strategies.

It goes further than a question of balancing attitude vs aptitude. The answer lies in the internal processes you have to support this, and the time you will allow that person to develop required skills.

Arthur Freudiger, Procurement Solutions Manager at Charles Kendall, sums it up best. “While culture and attitude is critical, there needs to be the right balance depending on the position to ensure projects and KPIs are met. Otherwise it’s all pointless.”

Dee Clarke, is a Senior Consultant within the Davidson Projects & Operations team, which delivers the right technical and project expertise for any stage of a project or asset’s life cycle.

She has more than 10 years’ experience in recruitment across the Australian and Irish markets. During this time, Dee has forged a strong expertise in Procurement and Contracts and is an Affiliate Member of CIPSA.

Get in the Best Career Shape of Your Life – Here’s How

Are you stuck in a career rut? Need to give your procurement skills a boost to grab your dream job? Then pay attention!

career boot camp

The research is in, and the procurement leaders and CPOs have spoken. Nearly 80 per cent of supply chain executives believe it is critical for new hires to have leadership and professional competencies.

But how can procurement professionals achieve this? And how can they fit professional development into already busy lives? This is where the Procurious Career Boot Camp comes in.

If you missed our launch last week, or are bursting with questions about it, read on. We have all the information you need!

What is the Procurious Career Boot Camp?

The Procurious Career Boot Camp “Get in the Best Career Shape of Your Life” is a global professional development event for procurement and supply chain professionals hosted on procurious.com. It is designed to help you build vital skills, networking and advancement opportunities for your career.

How does it work?

The series will feature daily podcasts with tips and insights from some of the leading experts and influencers in the procurement space – our “Career Coaches” – to help you flex your career muscle (see more below on who some of these influencers are!). We’ll accompany these podcasts with daily blogs from our “Career Coaches” and vibrant group discussions on Procurious.

Why this topic?

Procurement is the fastest growing profession in the world, with more than four million practitioners worldwide. It’s also a profession that offers tremendous growth and advancement opportunities over the long term. However, not all professionals have access to formal, targeted training or mentoring.

This first of its kind Career Boot Camp aims to support this by helping our members to improve their career fitness! There is a wealth of research that shows the benefits of professional development.

APICS, a professional association for supply chain management, has highlighted just a few, including allowing procurement and supply chain professionals to expand their outlook on the field, foster new ideas for the workplace, set them apart from other candidates, demonstrate their commitment to the industry, and increase their confidence.

Are the podcasts available to everyone? 

We will let you sample one episode for free via email, but you do need to be a member of Procurious to take part in the full Boot Camp.

For non-members, this is a great time to sign up for Procurious. The skills you learn during the Boot Camp will help your next discussion with your boss on that raise or promotion you’re looking for. It’s very easy to register – just click here and sign up!

Is it really free?

Yes! Once you sign up to become a member of Procurious, you’ll have access to all of the content around the Boot Camp, as well as all of the resources on Procurious, including featured classes, e-learning videos, podcasts and much more.

How long does it last?

Boot Camp is 15 days. Each of the podcasts is available for one day only. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from your “Career Coaches” and group discussions on Procurious.

Why do Boot Camp every day?

Just a few minutes a day can make the difference between standing still, or moving quickly into more impactful roles. Studies have found that a majority of business leaders said hiring people with both technical and leadership skills was important to their companies.

Toning up on your career fitness a few minutes a day will help you get in the rhythm of this important, daily habit of investing in your career advancement, skill development and professional networking.

Who are some of the “Career Coaches” taking part?

We’ve brought together a unique and interesting group of “Career Coaches” who are experts in their fields to help you flex that career muscle! Don’t miss this opportunity to tap into the insights from these leading influencers around the world, including:

  • Jon Hansen, Host, PI Window on the World Show and Writer and Speaker, Procurement Insights
  • Charlie Wigglesworth, Director of Business & Enterprise, Social Enterprise UK
  • Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
  • Carin Warner, President and Founder, Warner Communications
  • Tom Verghese, Consultant, Presenter, Executive cultural coach, Author and Founder of Cultural Synergies
  • Tom Derry, CEO, Institute for Supply Management
  • Gabe Perez, Vice President, Strategy & Market Development, Coupa Software
  • … and many others!

I’m on the fence – why should I sign up?

An increasing number of CPOs at leading companies have direct access, and a strategic input into, the CEO. Procurement is a profession where you can make a business-critical impact, from addressing supplier disruptions to improving innovation.

But, with globalisation and technological change disrupting every aspect of the profession, making time for career development, training and up-skilling is critical if you want to get ahead!

With Boot Camp, you can soak up the insights from the global community that will help you develop those skills and advance your career.

I’ve got some career ideas of my own – how can I get more involved?

Great to hear! You can Tweet us @procurious_ or reach us on Facebook. Or you can share your own ideas with the Procurious community by joining the Boot Camp Group page and posting to the community feed.

If I’m not a member of Procurious already, how can I sign up?

Just click here to sign up to become a member of Procurious!

How do I access the podcasts?

If you’re a member of Procurious already, you can visit our dedicated Career Boot Camp page to sign up for daily delivery of the podcasts to your email inbox.

Have You Got The X-Factor To Be A World-Class CPO?

Are you part of the herd, or are you leading the pack? Have you got the X-Factor to be a world-class CPO of the future?

x-factor-cpos

Getting to the top of the procurement profession is not about just about doing your job really well. It’s also about having a very specific set of competencies that set you apart from your peers.

Gravitas, creativity, community are probably not on your professional development list today – but they need to be!

We know that remarkable CPOs can get their team to achieve the almost impossible, and deliver measurable competitive advantage to a business. But the ‘must have’ competencies which mark a CPO as best-in-class have never been clearly defined.

However, according to the X-Factor research conducted by The Faculty, there are several areas, other than just functional excellence, in which a great CPO needs to excel.

Beyond the Fundamentals

It goes without saying that you have to get the fundamentals right.  Running a best-in-class procurement operation – or functional excellence – in areas such as your core processes, risk management and compliance is obviously an entry-level requirement and, as they say, “gets you a ticket to the dance”. That is a baseline requirement for being considered a leading CPO.

This may seem fairly self-evident. Let’s look at bit deeper and expose some of the tricker competencies you will need to finesse in order to get to the top.

Gravitas is both one of the most difficult leadership traits to define and to develop! But it would seem one of the most important attributes to realise your CPO aspirations. The X-Factor research showed that high levels of influence, presence and insight, enabled leading CPOs to drive strategy, not just respond to it.

Distinguishing the Best from the Rest

Other leadership attributes which distinguish the best CPOs from the rest were integrity, professional advocacy, innovation, creativity, relationships. You either have integrity or you don’t, so that’s easy.

Building productive working relationships and becoming an advocate for your team, their function and the profession are skills that can be improved over time if you focus on their development.

Innovation and creativity are less straightforward. It’s important to understand that these don’t mean you can paint or create something. It’s more that you are able to “think outside the box” about commercial issues and develop solutions that satisfy a number of different stakeholders’ needs.

Developing your strategic thinking capability will take a concerted effort. It’s not a skill that can be learned overnight. One of the best ways to do this is to learn from others who already have developed this.

As you build more experience in procurement, you’ll start to develop the ability to think strategically automatically. And you’ll also be able to translate this strategic thinking for other business stakeholders.

Commercial Leadership

This leads us to commercial leadership, one of the other X-Factor elements The Faculty identified that sets remarkable CPOs apart from their peers.

We all understand that CPOs need to have commercial acumen and deliver strategic value through great strategy using best practices.  But leading CPOs also have a strong sense of community. They understand the importance of maintaining strong, positive relationships with external audiences.

Suppliers are obviously a key stakeholder. However, increasingly important is the need for procurement to protect and promote their company’s brand reputation in the broader community through responsible sourcing and other initiatives.

The ability to lead a team, adapt to the changing business environment and influence all those you touch are, of course, critical people leadership skills required of a CPO.

But perhaps what will define exceptional CPOs in the future is their ability to actually identify and nurture future X-Factor talent.

CPOs Need to Nurture X-Factor Talent

“In effect, we have profiled the face of the modern CPO,” says Keith Bird, Managing Director of The Faculty. “Fostering procurement talent – equipped with the X-Factor – must surely be a goal for CPOs, the profession and managers alike.”

Keith stresses that the importance of investing in capability and training to increase the prevalence of the X Factor cannot be overstated. “The most effective CPOs are on a never-ending development journey. Self-study, training, experience, coaching and mentoring are all vital components in the creation of remarkable procurement leaders.”

An important insight to come out of the research is that CPOs equipped with the X-Factor not only successfully combine technical and leadership skills, but actively seek to share their passion with others.

“Top-performing CPOs mentor rising stars because they love and believe in what they do”, says Keith. “And that passion compels them to share their learnings with others.”

Professional Advocacy

The key is to find the time to look beyond the day-to-day challenges of your own organisation, and connect with peers and future leaders in the wider profession.

Besides mentoring, X-Factor CPOs share their knowledge and enthusiasm through attending industry networking events, conferences, leadership forums and (most importantly) they promote their passion for procurement through social media.

“The importance of spreading a positive message about procurement can’t be understated”, says Keith. “It’s the responsibility of leading CPOs to get online and share collaborative learnings that will help other functions understand the significant value that procurement can bring to any organisation.”

Are You CPO ‘Fit’?

Having seen the attributes of a world-class CPO, are you able to say that you have the X-Factor? Beyond a passion for procurement, are you sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for our profession with peers, colleagues, and stakeholders?

If you aren’t currently an X-Factor CPO, then don’t worry. There aren’t currently many CPOs around the world who tick all the attribute boxes. And there are fewer still when you’re looking for a sprinkling of social media magic.

As you grow and develop in your career, great procurement leaders will see potential, and bring high-potential superstars into their teams, providing fantastic opportunities for mentoring.

There’s still time for you to develop these skills. If you want to get started straight away, then look no further than Procurious’ Career Boot Camp.

Over 15 days, we’ll have 15 experts discuss insights aimed at getting you in the best career shape of your life. Don’t miss out – register now, and get on your journey to become an X-Factor CPO.

Request a copy of The X Factor – A Procurement Leadership Whitepaper here

It’s Not About The Money, It’s About the Meaning

Fancy titles, and a big pay cheque isn’t where the action is. You’re going to have to offer something with more meaning if you want to get Millennial superstars on your team.

Meaning Not Money

Kenny Cheung, Chief of Procurement at The World Bank Group, talks about his early career, the importance of setting boundaries, and the skills procurement professionals will require in the future.

Kenny also draws on his experience working for some of the biggest names in Finance, across two continents, about why Millennials care more for the deeper meaning in their job, rather than the big salary or fancy title.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

  • Retail Project Engineer at ExxonMobil;
  • Strategic Sourcing Consultant at ExxonMobil; and
  • Senior Category Manager at National Australia Bank.

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

The importance of setting boundaries personally and professionally. Boundaries are important for getting your priorities right, help manage expectations of others whilst ensuring you don’t get yourselves (and your teams) burned out.

In my pursuit of achievements, I realised I could accomplish more “quality” goals than “quantity” goals, if boundaries were set earlier in my career.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain Millennials?

CPOs ought to understand how to build broader purpose into their team’s mission, as well as the design of individual roles within their teams.

Millennials look for more than a famous brand, an impressive title or a good salary. They look for meaning in their roles, far deeper and holistic than previous generations. 

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

Emotional Intelligence, Energy Management, Influencing, Networking, and Innovation.

5. How valuable have mentors been in your career?

Extremely. They provide me with some invaluable golden rules of career management as well as work-life integration fundamentals.

Build your personal workout plan, and get fit to meet procurement leaders’ needs! Take a step toward your next promotion by registering for Career Boot Camp today.

Give Your Career a Cardio Boost With Procurious’ Boot Camp

Do you want to add more value to your organisation? Do you dream of being a CPO? Then Procurious’ Career Boot Camp is for you!

Calling all procurement and supply chain professionals! Are you impatient to add more value to your organisation? Do you dream of becoming a Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) in the future?

With globalisation and technological change disrupting every aspect of our profession, making time to update your skills can catapult you up the ladder.

Get Your Career in Shape

According to Deloitte’s third annual Global Supply Chain Survey, individuals with leadership acumen are in especially high demand.

79 per cent of supply chain executives surveyed by Deloitte said it was very important or extremely important for new hires to have leadership and professional competencies (to help with change management, problem solving, etc.).

In response to this need, Procurious is launching a free, exclusive 15-day Career Boot Camp programme to help high-achieving professionals around the world get in the best career shape of their lives, and upgrade their skills while on the go.

Starting the 19th of September, Boot Camp will feature a short, daily podcast, from a selection of top procurement leaders and business influencers.

But, individuals who wait will lose out! Each podcast will be available for just one day before being replaced by the next one in the series.

Listen, Learn, Discuss – and Advance!

The podcasts will showcase a variety of topics, from being your team’s MVP and networking your way to the top, to incubating your big ideas, all designed to give participants a career cardio boost.

Coaches include:

  • Tom Derry, CEO of the Institute for Supply Management
  • Chris Sawchuk, Principal & Global Advisory Practice Leader, The Hackett Group
  • Dr. Tom Verghese, Principal and Consultant, Cultural Synergies
  • Stuart Brocklehurst, Chief Executive, Applegate Marketplace Ltd
  • Gabe Perez, Vice President, Strategy & Market Development, Coupa Software
  • Sigi Osagie, author, ‘Procurement Mojo’
  • Jon Hansen, co-author, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’

And that’s not all! Each podcast will be accompanied by a blog article, and vibrant group discussions on the Procurious website.

We’ll also be hosting other articles and thought leadership pieces on every aspect of your career. Plus, we’ll be asking our senior procurement leaders to share the benefits of their career experience in our ’60 Seconds With…’ article series.

Build Your Workout Plan

The key thing to remember is that you can make Boot Camp fit to your schedule, and work for you. The beauty of Boot Camp is that it’s an entirely digital experience, which adds to Procurious’ current eLearning and skills development opportunities.

“The next generation in procurement needs to take the responsibility for their professional development into their own hands,” said Tania Seary, Founding Chairman of Procurious.

“Online learning is the fastest and easiest way to give yourself the skills you need. Just a few minutes a day can make the difference between standing still, or moving quickly into more impactful roles.”

So come on, don’t get left behind by your peers and colleagues. Build your personal workout plan, and get fit to meet these leaders’ needs! If you’re new to Procurious, try one podcast. If you’re a Procurious member, sign up for the whole programme!

Take a step toward your next promotion by registering for Career Boot Camp today.

Beware the Scary Old-World CPO

Is your career in the grips of a scary, old-world CPO? How do you recognise if your boss is one, and what can you do about it?

Scary old-world CPO

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

– Lewis Carroll, 1871

You’ll know a scary, old-world CPO when you see one.

I had almost forgotten about them until I found myself in a meeting with one last week. Somehow in recent times I have escaped the horror of hearing such old-world, closed network thinking like:

  • “I don’t want my team on social media, someone may poach them”
  • “We’re too busy working to be looking at what’s happening in the rest of the world”
  • “We know our business best”
  • “What if my team spends all day on social media?”

To the team at Procurious, these comments are like blasphemy. We’re on a mission to change the face of procurement, and give the images associated with the profession a makeover. We want to replace the old brown cardigan-clad stereotype, with fresh images of procurement as the “smartest guys in the room”.

My meeting with this archetypal nemesis reminded me of all the reasons why we founded Procurious. It gave me increased motivation to continue our mission, and gave rise to an overwhelming urge to protect all the amazing rising stars in procurement from the soul-crushing dictatorship of a scary, old-world CPO.

The Old-World CPO

Let’s face it, if your personal characteristics and actions portray an image that you’re living in the past, the chances are good you are. People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.

As such, we want to reward the great bosses, those leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.

What are the tell-tale signs of a scary, old-world CPO? The next time you’re going for an interview, or looking at your current boss, don’t fall for the flashy suit, big title, or even the big brand name they represent.

If the person opposite you falls into one of these categories, the chances are your career development will come to a screeching halt under such a draconian regime.  

The (Digitally) Invisible Man…or Woman

Check whether this CPO has any sort of online presence. Tell-tale signs of invisibility include profiles with no photos, or inappropriate photos, scant, or no, information, and no visible mentions in a Google search.

There may have been a freak internet-cleansing event, wiping out all references to this person, but the reality is that they probably haven’t spoken at any events, written anything interesting, taken the time or effort to understand social media, or understand the fact that you will be researching them online.

Also, beware those CPOs who have fewer than 500 connections in their network. Some CPOs do make the case of quality vs quantity. But, if you’re working in a large company, have a large team, and work with an extensive supply base, shouldn’t 500 quality connections be expected?

You (and the majority of your peers) want to work for someone who is an influencer. You want a leader with a wide range of connection they can introduce you to, and broaden your horizons. Working with someone with a limited network can be a road to nowhere for your career prospects.

Robinson Crusoe – the Loner 

This CPO really is an island.

They don’t believe in networking, collaborating, or outside knowledge flow, and believe information is for their own personal advantage to build their power base. The Robinson Crusoe profile can physically manifest itself as an executive sitting in a corner by themselves, with their back to the team.

This information block exists not only within their psyche, but extends to the procurement team itself. This old-world CPO has particularly old-world views, and creates a knowledge hierarchy, where they take all the great (and politically advantageous) ideas as their own.

Another problem with this approach is that it encourages working in a closed network as part of the norm. These scary old world CPOs end up staying in the same profession, peer group, company, or industry, invariably associating with people they already know. This peer group continues to reinforce their outdated approach to management, and their thinking is never challenged.

The new world CPO is collaborative, a “true influencer” and shares their knowledge freely and widely.

My view is that a CPO’s main job is to not only drive change and innovation (and make a couple of deals on the side), but to give their team the opportunity to access tools and discuss ideas with other professionals, thought leaders and experts from around the globe.

Yet I still see CPOs encouraging teams to work in isolation, unaware that there is whole universe of knowledge to help them grow and excel in their jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada – The Career Crusher

Their desk calendar reads 2016, but their attitude towards employees is stuck in the 1950s.

Yes, your boss should have an overall plan for how their team is delivering against the overall business strategy. But they should also have a plan for you – both for what you need to deliver, and how you need to develop in the future.

They should be committed to diversity and promoting young talent, to making sure their team reflects this commitment and is generating opportunities for the next generation of talent.

The best CPOs are obsessed with finding the best people and helping them develop. They send their people out to be trained in the skills they need, expose them to new opportunities, and build peer networks that will develop leadership skills.

The worst CPOs keep their category managers locked away from the rest of the world in fear that their people will be poached. A great CPO doesn’t need to worry about this. They know that they have developed a great employee value proposition that keeps their team engaged and retained.

Reverse Mentoring

Let’s not be too hard on these talented Heads of Procurement. They can’t all be cut from the same cloth.

Why not get on the front foot and try and initiate some reverse mentoring. With a few polite, and well-placed pointers, I am sure you could help turn your scary, old-world CPO into a procurement rock star.

Sharing your skills and knowledge could help your CPO become increasingly tech savvy and an advocate for technology, including social media, for procurement. And just in case you need some more points, you can find a 5-point checklist on being a great procurement boss right here.

We look forward to seeing you both on Procurious soon!

Is Indirect Procurement Really So Complex?

You could be forgiven for thinking the management of indirect procurement is akin to rocket science. Is it really so complex?

Indirect Procurement Rocket Science

Sourcing and contracting indirect goods and services in categories like I.T., consulting, HR and travel is important to keep the business running.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the procurement of such services is akin to rocket science, especially if you listen to those many external “solution providers” whose income stream may depend on you.

It may be tempting to consider outsourcing some or all of the management of your indirect spend. In many organisations it is often poorly recorded, loosely managed, widely dispersed, and, generally, messy or neglected. But first let’s consider the issues, and how this indirect spend could be managed internally.

Direct and Indirect Procurement 

Direct (or core) procurement traditionally focuses mainly on the sourcing of goods, and some allied services, that are used in the manufacturing or production of goods for sale. These items are usually clearly specified, often with a pre-defined supplier base.

Indirect procurement is different. It is essentially the sourcing of services (and maybe some goods) to support day-to-day operations.

The indirect spend may make up around 30 per cent of all third-party spend, but there are significantly more suppliers and the buying community is more decentralised. Add to that, a higher potential for maverick spend and sensitive stakeholders, and there is the added complexity.

What is happening now is that the percentage of indirect spend-under-management is growing in many companies. Difficult areas such as advertising, insurance and consulting fees are slowly being brought into the category structure.

It is often said that indirect procurement is not strategic. However, some high spend categories, such as sponsorship and employee benefits, could definitely qualify.

Key issues in Indirect Procurement
  • Buying decisions are often dispersed throughout an organisation into diverse and competing business units or locations.
  • Stakeholders can, and will, resist any changes on which they have not been consulted.
  • Managing an indirect category such as marketing services or consulting requires assembling the historical data and providing reliable spend information. Often transactions are miscoded – sometimes on purpose – which creates the wrong picture.
  • Suppliers can only be a resource for continuous improvement if the communication channels are open in both directions.
Strategies for Indirect Procurement  

The first step in a category strategy should be to aggregate the spend and understand it and its sub-categories. Next, present this information, in a digestible form, to stakeholders to elicit their input.

It is never too early to talk to stakeholders about the data or the proposed Scope of Work. After the Request for Proposal has been issued, it is too late.

Two of the success criteria in indirect procurement are a robust Scope of Work and a detailed Service Level Agreement with workable measurements.  Without these, any contract can fail.    

Indirect Procurement as a Career Choice

The requisite technical skills for individual success in procurement have been well-documented. One of the key skills of the future is to be numerate and have analytical ability, but not necessarily be a mathematician.

Managing indirect categories requires a different skill set from that which is needed for working in direct procurement. Behavioural skills, which can also be acquired, come into the spotlight here.

Particularly important is the need to collaborate with stakeholders. An aspiring category manager needs Influencing and listening skills, empathy, and the ability to take the initiative as well as being decisive when the need arises.

Indirect categories (when the tail-end spend is excluded) do not easily lend themselves to automation or the use of the e-procurement tools, such as e-catalogues or vendor management systems.

This creates a dilemma for external service providers who have these tools, but readily admit that there are nuances and emotions at play that may be beyond their control.

The organisational culture and landscape on the indirect side has many nuances that do not exist on the direct side. Procurement executives will therefore need to traverse the waters of indirect spend with unique strategies to ensure success.

Indirect procurement is all about building trust with stakeholders and suppliers to ensure continuity of supply and smooth operations.

Just try to procure the same make and model of smartphone for everyone, or change the catering company without considering end-users.

I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction

A third of workers are in struggle town to get job satisfaction and almost one in ten say choosing the wrong career is their biggest regret in life.

satisifaction

A study commissioned by Start Profile has indicated that job satisfaction in the UK is low, with many workers wishing they were doing something entirely different with their lives.

The Satisfaction Results

 The research into job satisfaction uncovered that:

  • 39 per cent of people are happy in their career
  • 24 per cent confessed that they ‘fell into’ their profession
  • 36 per cent are unhappy at work
  • 14 per cent actively admit to seeking new job opportunities

The results are a little alarming, indicating that 61 per cent of participants are unhappy in their current jobs. The research went on to reveal that in Britain, people working in retail were the most likely to seek alternative employment opportunities, closely followed by the transport and healthcare industries.

So why is job satisfaction so hard to come by?

On an interesting note, the study revealed that nearly 1 in 10 participants stated that choosing their current career is the biggest regret in their life. A further 17 per cent wished that they had followed their dream instead, while 11 per cent are just putting up with the job.

Andy Pickles, CEO of Online Careers Service at Start, commented that, “Many of us end up in a job we don’t enjoy because of decisions we make at a young age, whether that be choosing the wrong subjects, or not having enough guidance at school.”

Interestingly, a third of respondents said their parents had provided the most influence on their careers. 9 per cent indicated that it was their teachers who inspired their career path, and 6 per cent claimed to have been influenced by a literary or TV character.

satisfaction

With Job satisfaction getting harder to achieve, is salary the key to our happiness?

The relationship between money and happiness isn’t as straightforward as we might think. Michael Page, the British based recruitment business, used data from the Cabinet Office’s Wellbeing and Policy report to plot salary against happiness of 260 occupations.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.09.21Click here read more on Salary vs. Happiness

‘Happiness’ was measured as the mean life satisfaction rating (a score out of 10) taken from the Annual Population Survey 2011-2013. The life satisfaction ratings were grouped as followed:

  • 0 to 4, (low);
  • 5 to 6, (medium);
  • 7 to 8, (high);
  • 9 to 10, (very high).

Salary data has been sourced from the 2013 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

The Happiness Curve

The happiness curve indicates the overall relationship between happiness and salary. Compared with the general trend, occupations appearing above the curve are happier than you might expect for people on their salary, and those below the curve appear less happy than you’d expect.

Who are the happiest outliers?

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Happy outliers are those jobs which appear furthest above the curve. The biggest outliers are fitness instructors, who despite earning significantly less than many occupations, are actually happier. Dental nurses (who are happier then dentists) and school secretaries follow closely after fitness instructors.

When you look at the top happiest jobs, we see a huge salary range from £18k for company secretaries, to £117k for CEOs and senior officials. The clergy come out on top in terms of happiness, despite earning nearly 6 times less than CEOs and senior officials, who sit in second place.

How does Procurement stack up against job happiness and satisfaction?

According to happiness curve, the procurement profession is holding steady, with buyers, procurement officers, and purchasing managers and directors having a high happiness rating of 7.4 (the red dots on the happiness curve below).

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Procurement Leaders highlighted a fascinating point about job satisfaction and happiness – satisfaction levels tend to fluctuate, and can be dependent on a particular day or week.

Furthermore, in the 2016 Procurement Leaders Salary Survey, which provided an insight into the earning potential of those working in roles across the procurement function, it found that there was a clear relationship between earnings and satisfaction. The survey indicated that the more you earn, the happier you tend to be.

The survey also revealed a difference between men and women. Men’s satisfaction levels increased with their earnings, whereas women’s satisfaction levels did not follow the same pattern.

Throughout the results, the conclusion is clear – job satisfaction is the dependent variable. Happily, the procurement function is positioned uniquely to offer global travel opportunities, participation in stakeholder negotiation and collaboration on an internal and external levels.

Combined with higher than average pay, and the chance to create meaningful impact across organisations, this has the potential to make procurement a very attractive career choice (and not one to regret!).

So maybe Mick Jagger was wrong after all…