Which soft skills are essential to procurement?

November 28th, 2019
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Procurious, a network created by and for procurement and supply chain professionals, gives their peers a voice to highlight current and future trends. Let's take a moment to look at the personal qualities, or soft skills, which are now essential to the procurement profession. Six procurement decision makers share their views in a video.

Procurement soft skill no. 1: The art of communication

Communication, whether through active listening, empathy and/or transparency, is a vital part of the procurement profession.

"The key for procurement functions within organisations is to really understand what the business needs are, what their requirements are so that then we can work with them to create the solution", explains Gemma Bell, Head of Purchasing at L'Oréal.   

Buyers must be able to talk to all types of stakeholders, from internal customers through to management, not forgetting suppliers.

Procurement soft skill no. 2: The art of relationships

In addition to communication, the procurement profession must develop its social and even emotional intelligence, through other interpersonal skills. For Chris Emberton, Chief Procurement Officer at Clifford Chance, this means, "the ability to go in, meet a stakeholder, land credibly, be able to understand exactly what they're looking to achieve…", for example. People skills, leadership, diplomacy, pedagogical skills and more could also be added to this list.

Ultimately, from a procurement perspective, the maintenance of relationship skills aims to:

  • Build lasting and trusting relationships. As Chris Cliffe, Director at CJC Procurement, reminds us: "These days, your net worth is your network, so it's really important that procurement professionals spend a lot of time listening to, connecting to and meeting as wide a range of people as they can to be a sponge of knowledge and learn from other people".  
  • Better collaborate with stakeholders. As Matt Beddoe, Head of Procurement at Nestlé, rightly points out: "We're part of a function but we're also part of the business, so the biggest thing for me is collaborating with the business and delivering what the business wants". 

The buyer therefore has a complex role to play. They have to be both sociable and attentive, a mediator and influencer and use relationship management as a cornerstone.

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