Key highlights: 

  • 53% of procurement leaders have changed their procurement operating model in the last 12 months, rising to 80% in the last three years to align with new expectations in procuremen
  • 78% deem soft skills to be either essential or very important for tomorrow’s procurement leaders
  • 66% say their top planned method for engaging and retaining highly skilled new talent was to ‘provide clear and structured training opportunities’, yet 94% of respondents don’t have a structured training approach at all levels in the organisation
  • 79% agree that procurement’s approach to training needs to change to achieve the new operating model
  • 35% believe new technologies are not supported by the right processes and skills
With the digital transformation spurring a major shift in procurement’s value proposition, it has proven crucial for procurement leaders to revamp their operating models, with 53% having done so in the last 12 months, rising to 80% in the last three years. 79% of respondents agree procurement’s approach to training needs to change in order to achieve this new operating model, and ‘soft skills’ are now deemed some of the most important skills for a procurement leader to possess (78%).
These are a few of the significant findings from the major new research study, “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow”, published by Efficio, the global procurement experts, in collaboration with Cranfield School of Management. 
Among the biggest challenges facing procurement leaders to achieving this new operating model is the lack of processes and skills to support the new technology (35%), the lack of structured training in the function – with 94% failing to have a structured syllabus in place, as well as tackling the new approach to recruiting the new workforce demographics.
Procurement needs to elevate itself to become more effective, but to do that it needs to attract and retain a new type of talent. These are people who are digitally literate, strategically minded and who typically demand more in terms of career development and learning opportunities. It’s vital procurement leaders confront this challenge head on and in doing so not only realise procurement’s full potential as a value creator for the company, but also to ensure its continued existence as a function.
Simon Whatson, Principal at Efficio

Our research revealed there to be a clear divide between how organisations believe they can attract and engage young talent, with 25% identifying the key factor to be salary and remuneration, 21% believe it to be procurement’s role in sustainability and CSR, and 37% view clear communication of internal growth opportunities as vital to retaining prospective talent. 


Businesses clearly understand what matters to the next generation of leaders, but they need to shout loudly about it. For too long, procurement has been characterised as the ‘process policemen’ or ‘final price negotiator’ – charges it would like to deny but often lives up to. To become more effective in the future, procurement leaders need to build a new, technology-driven, skills-enabled procurement operating model that really values the human factor.
Simon Whatson, Principal at Efficio

This follows last year’s report from Efficio, “Procurement 2025: Is digital transformation driving more effective procurement”, which identified the impacts of technology on procurement in the years to come and skills required to harness it.   

For more information, please contact:

Katie Elliott
PR & Communications Assistant
+44 (0) 7973 726 642