To retain the best procurement talent companies need to be proactive

By Chris Miller in London

To retain the best procurement talent companies need to be proactive

I recently shared a procurement talent infographic on LinkedIn from this year’s Raconteur “Future of Procurement” special report.

I was interested in the statistics, mostly because they reflected my personal experience as a recruiter specialising in this area. I also suspected that my LinkedIn network of over 16,000 professionals in procurement would be equally as curious about what the figures said.

The specific statistics I pulled out were:

•   32% of organisations have not taken any steps to create or feed their talent pipeline

•   25% of organisations think procurement talent is of equal importance to other disciplines

•   57% of organisations don’t have, or don’t know whether they have, a talent management strategy in place

Over a few days, almost 13,000 readers viewed my post. It was clear that the subject matter resonated with my connections.

As the reactions, likes, comments and reshares came rolling in, I realised two things: digital information can have a surprising reach and there is significant value in good content, especially when it pertains to our everyday working lives. Looking closely at these figures, one thing is clear: procurement functions are still overlooked and businesses aren’t worried enough about attracting and retaining talent in this area.

Procurement is the primary focus of my day-to-day discussions. Candid conversations with clients confirm that many organisations are facing challenges that have an impact on hiring, especially when it comes to the attraction and retention of talent. The statistics echo this concern, showing there is a lack of understanding and investment in creating a stable workforce within procurement functions.

As outlined in the Raconteur report, this is a massive oversight. Procurement plays an increasingly important role in many businesses, especially with the advancement of technology and our ability to access vast amounts of data. It’s crucial to have the right talent in place because professionals in this area are becoming part of core business activities. As a result, finding and keeping the best people is vital.

I often ask senior leaders in procurement what they do when someone leaves their team. The three answers that I commonly hear are: they replace the individual with someone internally, they hire externally or they spread the work between existing team members.

Organisations with a strong focus on internal development tend to hire at a junior level, creating a career trajectory for those individuals, allowing them to step into new category areas with varying tenures of between two to five years. These companies typically go through limited external hiring, only bringing someone in when a niche specialism or area of category expertise is needed and a suitable individual is not found internally. This includes digital or third-party manufacturing areas, where the landscape is rapidly evolving.

Companies not offering the same sort of career paths go to the market when replacing employees. They can struggle to manage the consequential activity gap while doing so. They see either the need for temporary secondment, or interim contractors coming in to manage ongoing projects while a permanent replacement is found.

We need to ask why companies are still reactive to filling procurement roles, only taking action after someone leaves; given the increasingly significant function that these roles have in the success of a business, it would be more efficient to have a pipeline of suitable talent ready to step into work.

According to Deloitte’s latest annual Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey, only 28% of CPOs rate their current effectiveness in business partnering as excellent, but 86% aspire it to be so. Yet 51% of CPOs don’t believe their teams have the skills to deliver their procurement strategy suggesting an overwhelming lack of faith in existing capabilities.

So, given the increased importance in these ever-competitive times, why aren’t companies placing more value on getting their talent management strategy right? One thing that the Raconteur report makes clear is that businesses need to start taking this seriously.

So why not get in touch to discuss how Proco can work with your organisation to find the right procurement talent, or put a hiring strategy in place to ensure that you have access to the right talent as you need it? I’m happy to have a conversation about how we can work together – just drop me a line on

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About the author

Chris Miller specialises in sourcing senior-level professionals exclusively within Procurement working with clients and candidates across leading industry sectors throughout the EMEA region.

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