What makes a Procurement Professional?

Even though it had a very academic bent, a good presentation at the Fourth Annual International Symposium on Supply Chain Management was Paul Larson‘s presentation on “A Survey of Professionals on Topics, Tools, and Techniques for SCM”.

In this presentation, he overviewed a number of surveys carried out over the past few years that, as part of their design, attempted to determine what skills were required by a procurement professional. All of these surveys demonstrated that an effective procurement professional requires a broad cross section of skills to succeed. This indicates, at least to your author, that a procurement professional needs to be a very talented and skilled employee and that a good procurement team has the potential to be the superstars of your organization.

A study by Giunipero and Percy in 2000 identified the following skills:

  • Strategic
  • Process Management
  • Team
  • Decision Making
  • Behavioral
  • Negotiation
  • Quantitative

A study by Gammelgaard and Larson in 2001 identified:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Supply Chain Awareness
  • Ability to see the BIG picture
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Prioritizing
  • Motivation
  • Cross-functional awareness
  • Leadership

And the recent study performed by the presenter identified the following top ten tools, topics, and techniques:

  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Teamwork
  • Computer (Analytics) Skills
  • Leadership
  • Contract Management
  • Price and Cost Analysis
  • Purchasing and Supply Management
  • Supplier Selection / Evaluation
  • Relationship Building

In other words, your average procurement professional needs the same breadth of skills required by a senior manager in any other department of your organization. Thus, it should be no surprise that a best-in-class procurement organization can make unparalleled contributions to your bottom line.