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How to tackle the shortage of talent in procurement

by | March 17, 2020

Before learning some of the ways in which you can deal with the shortage of talent in procurement, it’s important to understand how and why we got to this point in the first place. If you haven’t already, we recommend that you have a quick look at part 1 of this blog series, as we talked about 4 factors that had a major influence on the rise of procurement talent shortage.

Besides the struggle to retain and recruit talent, CPOs also need to master the complexity of finding the right mix of technical and soft skills which are very much needed in the procurement space.

According to a study conducted by DHL on supply chain and procurement talent gaps, procurement is facing a high level of competition when it comes to hiring, with one qualified candidate for every six job openings.

To address the issues regarding shortage of talent in procurement we need to create a mindset shift within procurement organsations. This means working on procurement’s reputation and its strategical importance within the business, so that more candidates view it as an appealing profession and more businesses regard procurement as an important business partner.

This shift will take time to happen, however, we suggest 3 solutions that can help minimise the impact of talent shortage:

1. Develop talent internally

Many companies are quick to make the decision of hiring new talent, rather than develop talent internally. Technically, the hiring process should go a lot faster than developing talent internally; less time and effort is implied in doing this. But is that a good strategy for companies? Given the current situation and talent shortage, probably not.

Companies need to learn to nurture and develop their existing resources in order to remain competitive. Procurement teams need to have regular development reviews, identify areas of strength and areas to develop and companies need to invest in training programs.

Firstly, companies must understand the importance of offering training programs to their employees. We are operating in a fast-paced environment, both in terms of technical developments and talent movement. Hence why, companies need to cater to their existing talent.

As a second step, companies need to understand what kind of skills they are missing and who, from their existing talent pool, could be developed into learning these skills. It often happens that employees don’t come forward if nobody asks the question.

Finally, when it comes to training, companies need to be aware that their existing talent might be missing both technical skills (which is where the focus usually stands) but also soft skills.

Recently there has been an increasing demand for soft skills, such as communication or negotiation skills. These kinds of skills can make the difference when it comes to getting deals delivered, communicating with suppliers or negotiating contracts.

2. Make use of technology

Procurement is currently going through a digital transformation phase, with technology becoming an essential part of procurement organisations and procurement processes.

Adopting an e-procurement system empowers companies by making procurement processes more efficient and transparent, minimising costs and maximising value for the organisation.

Technology can take over multiple repetitive and time-consuming tasks from your procurement team, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks. This makes room for developing new skills within your procurement teams.

In addition to this, incorporating technology in your procurement processes will also help solve the shortage of talent. Young procurement professionals are keener to join forward thinking, innovative companies that are aware of the value technology brings to their organisation.

3. Outsource

Finally, we need to mention outsourcing. Hiring new talent or developing existing talent comes with risks. What if your company’s business needs are fluctuating? What if once you upskill your internal talent they leave? What if new business needs keep surfacing and you need to hire more and more talent but don’t have the budget to sustain this growth?

The answer to these questions, and more, is outsourcing.

Disruptive talent shortages are being experienced by a number of industries. Procurement consulting and outsourcing companies have at their disposal procurement professionals with vast experience, who have lived through various types of procurement transformations and have experience in implementing and working with the oldest and latest procurement technologies.

Outsourcing reduces the stress for companies to find procurement professionals with knowledge specific to certain industries.

In many cases companies are in need of new procurement talent based on certain projects. Let’s take the implementation of a new piece of P2P software. Why should companies hire a team of implementation consultants when it can contract one for the duration of the implementation process?

Working with a procurement consultancy ensures that you get the talent you need specifically for the amount of time needed to get the procurement platform up and running smoothly in the business.

In addition to this, companies offering procurement support services can help ease the workload of your procurement teams, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks.

Besides helping tackle the shortage of talent in procurement, companies that use a mix of the 3 solutions we covered above will set the foundation for a strong procurement organisation, while improving perception of procurement within the company. Want to learn more about this topic? Don’t hesitate to contact us.