The skills and experience needed to succeed in the new procurement landscape are evolving faster than team development can keep up.

People are the foundation for procurement’s success today and in the future but the challenge of getting the expertise teams need when and where they need it continues to persist. Our recent survey of procurement professionals found gaps in team sourcing and procurement expertise is one of the biggest challenges facing teams today (cited by 41% of survey respondents). When asked to identify which specific skills are in highest demand:

  • 54% of those surveyed indicated data and analytical skills
  • 43% said supplier relations
  • 41% identified category expertise
  • 41% said financial skills
  • 40% said negotiation skills
  • 37% noted innovation and collaboration skills

As procurement moves from a tactical function to a strategic business partner, leaders need a variety of skills applicable across the business that will help the procurement organization drive value, improvements and meet expectations across all critical areas. A role that once relied on technical and practice-specific knowledge now requires a well-rounded set of hard and soft skills; from data analytics and financial knowledge to negotiation skills and the ability and willingness to collaborate and innovate.

On a basic level, the gaps teams face hasn’t changed much, but the approach to bridging them has. Many procurement organizations today are ramping up training programs, professional development initiatives and cross-functional collaboration to ensure their teams are growing as fast as their needs are changing. Many organizations are also turning to sourcing services to expand their teams in an on-demand fashion and supplement internal resources with outside talent, resources and experience.

Having the right team with the right experience and know-how directly contributes to value creation, performance and competitive advantage, but what this looks like at the day-to-day level differs for every organization and project. The right team includes a mix of traditional procurement skills such as negotiation, risk management and those needed for the new procurement landscape, big data analytics and cross-functional collaboration. The first step is to figure out which specific skill sets are most critical for reaching your business goals and then work backwards to devise a plan for nurturing a team and network of partners that will help you get there.