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Procurement success requires more than technical skills

Changing business requirements mean that procurement professionals need a wider range of skills than ever before.

The skill sets for success in procurement are increasingly challenging.  

Just being strong on technical procurement skills is no longer enough. The ‘softer’ skills of stakeholder management, change management and effective influencing are increasingly the differentiator between success and failure. 

To be successful in the ‘war for talent’ companies need to develop clear strategies and work closely with HR to actively market the function as an interesting, rewarding and great place to work.  

The more successful companies have active programmes that incorporate all the elements across their ‘talent management framework’. 

It is critical that our people combine strong interpersonal skills with the excellent technical procurement skills that they need to add value.

Ed Fuchs, CPO at ARYZTA

Business maturity 

At Swiss speciality food company, ARYZTA, the procurement stakeholder base is complex, and procurement teams need to work within an international framework of multiple business divisions serving key strategic customers.   

It can be challenging to attract individuals with the right skills to work in such a demanding multinational environment, says Ed Fuchs, CPO at ARYZTA. 

“The skill set focus depends on the business maturity and the phase of transformation.  At the beginning of a transformation – where Europe is now – you need to be able to consult and sell the transformation. You need to be able to convince the stakeholders.  

“Once the mandate and organisation has been established – such as in North America – the focus is more on effective cross-functional team working and category management,  achieving ‘design for profitability’, by working much closer with the commercial and brand teams to build in profitability in product design and production,” says Fuchs.  

“Our people need a blended skill set – it is critical that they combine strong interpersonal skills, with the excellent technical procurement skills that they need to add value.”


Agility factor  

Banking group RBS has been through some very challenging times since the 2008 financial crisis. The supply chain function proactively evolved to support the business, explains Laura Faulkner, Head of Supply Chain Services at RBS. 

“As of June 2014 we brought all contract management activities into SCS from across the bank, to offer end-to-end supply chain management, accountable for all activity pre- and post-contract, through a team of 350 full-time employees.  

“We manage around £4bn of spend, that spend has been maturely managed for the last 12 to 14 years. The challenges that we now face are very different to those we’ve experienced before. 

From a skills perspective, the biggest challenge is the agility factor, says Faulkner.  

“We have a number of conflicting demands on our resources and it’s about getting that balance right.  

“We need to keep everyone focused on moving swiftly, adding value to the supply chain while applying judgement to ensure we get the balance right between the cost focus, the customer service improvements, and the risk and regulatory agenda.  

“Our utmost focus is always on our customer and ensuring that they get the best value and security from the supply chain.” 

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