The new generation of procurement officers: How do they behave?

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procurement officers
June 20th, 2019
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The behaviour of generation Y[1] procurement officers differs significantly from that of their predecessors. Professional fulfilment, mobility, being more informal in relationships and digital maturity are key characteristics of these new procurement officers.

Although they are considered by their peers to be more inventive, they still have to prove that their superficial nature is just an unfounded impression.

The third barometer[2] by Nomination, Décision Achats, CNA [Conseil National des Achats — French national procurement council] and Determine focuses specifically on the next generation of purchasing managers and explains:

In what ways are the new generations of procurement officers unique?

There are four key factors that explain why there is a major generational split between the behaviour of new procurement officers (generation Y) and their older colleagues.

  • Work-life balance

For 57% of those interviewed in the Baromètre des Décideurs Achats (procurement decision makers barometer) study, work is no longer their key focus. Procurement officers under 40 prefer to strike a balance between their work and private lives.

In practice, this means that these procurement officers look for workplaces that offer maximum flexibility in their working hours, an openness to teleworking and physical activity options.

  • Mobility

As well as being more geographically mobile, generation Y procurement officers are also more professionally mobile. Searching for a workplace that suits them means that they change jobs more frequently. But in contrast, and more often than their predecessors, they turn down mobility opportunities if what's on the table doesn't quite suit their professional development from their point of view.

  • Professional relationships

The new generations of procurement officers prefer greater simplicity in their professional relationships, within their jobs or with their managers. The study confirms that young procurement officers are also more informal and avoid internal politics, just like millennials. 

  • Use of technology

It comes as no surprise that the use of technology is a key trait of new procurement officers. Some 37% of those who responded to the study noted how much digital technology is so ingrained in the operations of buyers under 40. Millennials—buyers or not—rely on digital technologies and their virtual networks to learn, travel and communicate.  

What are the strengths of these new procurement officers?

Connected in every sense of the word, the new generations of procurement officers stand out from their peers first and foremost for their ability to strike up relationships (40% of respondents). This is followed by creativity and constant questioning. Millennials are less procedural, quicker to break down barriers and think outside the box.   

Furthermore, with these qualities they are best placed to respond to the biggest challenge raised in the first part of the study: sourcing innovative suppliers. 

What are the weaknesses of these new procurement officers?

Procurement officers under 40 are perceived by their older colleagues as impatient (61% of responses) and easily distracted (48%). This is perhaps the negative side of their impulsive characteristics. Although they may break down barriers, they may also tend to cut corners without really taking time to analyse or prepare. And as their predecessors suggested, they also give up when faced with a complex issue. These weaknesses should be cast aside very quickly in order to respond to the second biggest challenge identified by the study: risk management.

Although they master digital technologies and are particularly imaginative, new procurement officers still have to prove their ability to successfully drive projects in the long term, and are likely to radically transform the procurement profession. Let's see what happens in ten years' time!

 

[1] Generation Y or millennials: People born between 1980 and 2000 

[2] Responses from 230 procurement decision makers and 10 in-depth interviews