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Applying procurement principles to team skills development

Published: 2 years, 2 months ago

By Marisa Menezes

 

We’re now well and truly into 2015. Procurement strategy meetings have been held and lofty goals for the business have been set. Each team member will also have a shiny new set of KPIs to strive for.

 

For CPOs and team managers – preparing to meet the business objectives for the coming year involves not only developing a sound strategy, but ensuring you have the resources at your disposal to execute those plans.

 

In essence, once the planning is done, the success of your team will likely come down to two factors: capacity and capability. No, the two are not interchangeable and each need to be addressed separately. So here’s my thoughts on how to ensure your team is prepared for battle:

 

Capability vs capacity

Capacity is simply the workload of your team vs their available man-hours. While workloads fluctuate throughout the year and during projects, the balancing act of managing capacity and when to hire new permanent staff or procurement contractors is a task most managers have a grasp of.

 

Capability on the other hand is often misunderstood and underestimated within procurement teams. Most procurement managers understand the size of the team required and what they need to do to achieve their procurement goals, but they often lack visibility of their team’s individual skill sets mapped against those needed to get the job done.

 

In many ways capability is more important than capacity when compiling a team. You could select a full strength Australian cricket team of fit and experienced players, but if you don’t have a wicket keeper the team will have very little chance of success. Likewise a team of fast bowlers will take you lots of wickets, but is unlikely to post a big score with the bat.

 

Balance is the key to effective teams

Every manager needs to create a balanced team with the right combination of skills and experience to get the job done. For procurement in particular this is vital because procurement professionals require a unique mix of technical, commercial and softer skills, which are constantly evolving in the face of changing technology and market forces.

 

The lack of targeted higher-education courses feeding the profession with ready-made recruits armed with this broad range of skills means there is a widening skills gap in the profession. This makes the role of on-the job training in procurement a necessity rather than a luxury.

 

Getting bang for your professional development buck

This is where capability assessments play such an important role for procurement teams. They can help identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of your entire team, allowing you to focus your limited training dollars on the skill requirements that are lacking and most critical to team success.

 

Capability assessments provide procurement managers with a complete picture of their teams skills set, which they can map against what is required for the year ahead. They can then create targeted development plans for each individual in the knowledge every dollar is being allocated where it is most needed.

 

Often during this process, managers will identify a skills gap in their team that can only be filled by recruiting new talent with a specific set of experience. Alternatively, if you have identified a capacity issue and are looking to bolster your team - it's an opportune time to undertake a comprehensive capability assessment to identify exactly what requirements you have for the new role.

 

Essentially it is applying the principals of good procurement practice to the management of your procurement team – ensuring you find value for the business in every dollar spent.

 

From The Source’s experience there is a pressing need for more procurement teams to undertake a thorough capability assessment, preferably one designed specifically for procurement roles.

 

The Source partner with The Faculty who have developed a unique online capability assessment tool to measure the skills and knowledge gaps of procurement teams and identify development opportunities for individuals.

 

To find out more about capability assessment, please contact Marisa marisa.menezes@thesource.com.au or call the Melbourne office of The Source on 03 9650 6665.