Building procurement talent for today's market

April 2023

In the most recent years there’s a change in expectation of the level and competencies within procurement...” ArcBlue’s Director for Learning & Development, Jacqui Priestly, discusses the procurement competencies that are in highest demand in the current market, and the options available to organisations looking to strengthen procurement capability. 


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In the most recent years there’s a change in expectation of the level and competencies within procurement. In terms of the actual competencies that Managers are looking for, I would say there’s three major ones: 

The first one is negotiation. 

So we’ve been asked to train a lot of people recently on negotiation, but really specifically on price increases. So suppliers, everyone’s feeling this inflation thing. It’s all happened very quickly and we’re certainly seeing a lot of emphasis on that specific topic.

The other one is Supplier Relationship Management. 

So there’s been a lot of supply shortages and having that really locked-in supplier relationship has been super important during these pressing times. 

And then the third one I think is category strategy. 

So the category strategy is super important to really get right. So we’re seeing a lot of emphasis and request for training in that space. 


[Graphic] – What are the options for improving procurement capability?

If Managers don’t have the right capabilities in their team right now, they can do a few things. 

So they can obviously hire people, which will add to the ‘War for Talent’. They can also train people up from other disciplines. So imagine you’ve got someone with a legal background, or an HR background, or a technical background. They can train them up with the procurement skills. They’ve probably got the right commercial acumen and some of the knowledge to train up on procurement. 

They also could train through the junior ranks, which really is the most sustainable option because you’re bringing in fresh new faces into procurement.

And the other thing that we’re seeing is Managers asking for help with specific projects. So they might not have the right capability or the right capacity in-house. And so they’ll get someone in just to do that specific project. 


[Graphic] What’s the best way to build procurement capability? 

Starting with a capability Assessment is really important because you understand what the team know right now, but you also have a baseline so that you can measure against it once you’ve done all the training. And then what we do is have a blended learning approach. So creating learning journeys for the different cohorts – you’re not going to be teaching everybody the same things. So having groups of people that have a learning journey for them is super important, and the learning journeys will be made up of things like training, obviously, get that formal toolkit in place, but also then having a coach, a mentor, having it really programmatic. Having some self-paced things that they can go and do around research and applying tools and that type of thing. 

And I like to say, ‘Start with the training, go away and apply the training, what you’ve learned, and then come back and have some coaching on those specific elements, and go away and practice again, and then come back and get some coaching.’ So it goes in a cycle. And it you don’t then go and apply them, they’re going to slip out of your mind. So making sure that you’ve got a really good action plan when you walk away.