What are the skillsets needed to meet the business’ current and future needs?
The third session of KPMG’s Procurement igNite series centers on talent and skillsets within the procurement function. Craig Rawlings, Head of Supply Chain Consulting, opened the session by highlighting the dynamics of the procurement industry and how it has moved from policy and process driven, to a strategic and value adding function (for the organization). This requires the function to hire employees with strong analytical and strategic thinking skills, and who are able to manage business and vendor relationships.
Yet, as the function becomes more digitalized, the future may seem more uncertain. Will technology replace the function or will professionals effectively deploy digital tools and provide additional value to the organization?
How are procurement professionals preparing for the future? Jeffrey Chiang from KPMG Business School sat down with Tatiana Ohm, Vice President and General Manager, SEA in KellyOCG, Tiow Wei Yeong, Global Procurement Director of Diageo and Rhena Tan, President of Singapore Institute of Materials Management (SIMM) to discuss issues relating to talent.
With more millennials entering the workforce, the challenge for procurement teams in engaging millennials is instilling meaning and purpose for specialization. Using her own experience as an example, Rhena suggested that organizations can consider involving these younger procurement professionals in different projects, giving them opportunities to contribute and add value to the firm. This then enhances their sense of belonging in the company. Organizations should also have structured plans to help them succeed and grow.
Besides training programs, the skill sets required in procurement are also acquired through experience and knowledge. Wei Yeong observed that unfortunately, the increasingly dynamic procurement industry requires a wide variety of skill sets that is even harder to find with a shrinking pool of talent. The procurement function also lacks experienced professionals who can value add by gleaning insights and inferences from data. Tatiana concurred with Wei Yeong, and highlighted that there is currently a lack of professional education for procurement, and consequently a lack of transparency on the professional career path in procurement in this region. Firms will have to choose from build, buy, or borrow strategy, where they either train professionals internally, hire professionals for the period of the project, or bring talents from overseas. All options can be quite costly and time-consuming.
Panelists also unanimously agreed that technology improves efficiency and allows employees more time to engage in meaningful work. It also gives professionals time to train in skills such as empathy and communication, which cannot be replaced through technology but are also just as vital in the procurement function.
In future, Tatiana surmised that it may be possible to undertake job segmentation for procurement, allowing companies to differentiate between business critical components and the tactical components of the role which can be easily outsourced. She emphasized that it is up to procurement professionals to understand their core value propositions to their business stakeholders and align their skill set to the business models and requirements to support competitive growth.
Procurement professionals can leverage digital tools to achieve their organizational goals, expand capabilities, and draw insights from data. At the same time, investing in talent is also critical for procurement function to thrive in an uncertain and volatile world. The value proposition of the function therefore needs to be clearly articulated in order to provide direction.