Procurious, the online media network providing the latest news on procurement and logistics, invited four experts to its recent Big Ideas Summit 2019 to talk about their views on the profession and their procurement practices. All four experts agreed to take part in a question-and-answer session. This article will look at the importance of relationships with internal and external networks, the benefits of digitalisation and the best way to negotiate a pay rise.
The first skill to master
For the experts interviewed by Procurious, interpersonal skills are key. In particular, the ability to take all stakeholders into account is essential. Understanding the issues in the financial chain and taking them into consideration when managing purchases, by systematically digitalising supplier invoices for example, makes the business more productive. Creating trusting and lasting relationships with a first-class supplier base is one way to access customised innovations or developments, the effects of which can be seen at the other end of the production chain, this supporting business activity.
Regular and direct communication with strategic internal and external partners is clearly part of the skillset that buyers should focus on.
Less important skills
Certain basic skills have become obsolete as a result of digitalising procurement.
In particular, these include core skills that can be automated easily, resulting in an increase of productivity and accuracy. For example, digitalising invoices, accelerating and increasing the reliability of processes fall into this category. Similarly, managing purchase requests can be automated easily, from submitting a requirement to validating the request.
Automation can also take another form with the installation of industrial vending machines that ensure the availability of certain items, such as personal protective equipment. The result is the same, as machines accelerate and ensure the reliability of the procurement process. This in turn makes basic skills surrounding the management of internal purchases obsolete.
Your recruitment priorities
For a long time, companies have chosen to build strong, large teams. The result is a rich network of people working in procurement, with a sufficient number of high-level professionals. This is true both for purchasing and the supply chain. The experts confirmed that they prefer to recruit candidates with experience.
However, the difficulty lies in recruiting experienced employees who are able to bring immediate added value, while remaining flexible and curious. This enables them to play a part in ongoing developments happening in the majority of organisations, a place where procurement departments have undergone significant transformation. This change has been brought about by the arrival of increasingly efficient digital technologies and by the profession's new-found decidedly strategic position.
What is the best way to negotiate a pay rise?
The best way for procurement managers to negotiate a pay rise is by demonstrating the value of their strategic contribution. In summary, managers should demonstrate their contribution in the following three areas:
- Their ability to deliver savings while taking into account the overall cost, including any hidden costs in particular. They should demonstrate procurement's contribution to company innovation and its business dynamic through identifying new innovations available on the market as soon as possible, both from current suppliers and those who wish to become suppliers.
- Their expertise in managing supplier risks, which avoids disruptions and inefficiencies in the supply chain.
By leading part of the digital transformation, the procurement department boosts both productivity and efficiency within its remit. As digitalisation also promotes performance by taking the challenges faced by other professions into account, the collective operation of the company improves as a whole.
 Justin Sadler-Smith - Head of United Kingdom and Ireland, Ariba Cloud Procurement - SAP
Julie Brignac - Senior Vice President, Client Services - VNS Denali
Vishal Patel - Vice President Product Marketing - Ivalua
Carl Tomaszek - Sales Director - Icertis
 London - 14 March 2019