Procurement is the lifeblood of many industries, and a weak link in this department can be the source of a lot of wasted income.
With the wrong person in the role, your cash could be flowing out the door!
Don’t let this happen to your business: look for the following five traits before you extend that offer to your new potential employee…
Being able to negotiate to get the best price or quality is one of the most important parts of this role. At interview, you’ll want to do whatever you can to suss out how they negotiate. This may include a role play element, which can be more telling than simply asking questions.
Running a scenario in which you act as the supplier and they take on the role of buyer gives you a glimpse into how they conduct their negotiations. Think about how their tactics integrate with your business model and ethics – are they a good fit for your brand?
The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) provide a mini-challenge, with different scenarios that you could use. If you don’t have a lot of experience within this industry, then you can use these questions and answers to understand the process.
Remember, the most forceful isn’t always the best for the job! Both parties must be agreeable to the outcome, otherwise the working relationship will be doomed. This is where the negotiation has to be logical – as well as advantageous!
In order to be effective, a procurement professional should act with conviction. This doesn’t mean they rush in with overconfidence but that they follow through with their gut. During lengthy negotiations, it’s important for the procurement professional to show strength and consistency the whole way through.
While they may be new to your particular industry, they can learn the subtilties of your supplier relationship and this knowledge can be improved over time, but a lack of conviction can be much harder to overcome.
These procurement professionals effectively represent your business during negotiations, so ensure that you’re happy to put your trust in them. Wavering at negotiations or changing the goal posts too often can lead to a fraught relationship with the supplier.
During the course of the recruitment process, look for consistent and confident candidates.
While you most likely want all of your employees to present themselves well, procurement professionals can be held to a higher standard by those outside of the organisation.
Simply put, their personal presentation can be the difference between a great supplier relationship and a poor one that costs you more money.
This is an easy element to assess during the interview process, as you begin to get a feel for how they present themselves. Body language, appropriate attire and presentation skills during a task can all give you an inkling on how these candidates make the first impression. Being able to convey ideas and interact well with others are key competencies you want to test through the interview.
At the interview, the candidate will be putting their best self forward, which should also be the case when they become employees.
Is your company reactive or proactive? We’re all striving for a proactive environment, as it makes us much better placed to reach our goals. If you spend all of your time at action stations, dousing whichever fire is the hottest, then your goals take a back seat.
Hiring forward-thinking members of staff takes some of the pressure off the senior management team to prepare for the future. Those that are already thinking about how future developments will impact the industry are better prepared to handle them.
A desire to develop themselves, as well as their supplier relationships, is also essential for a procurement professional. In a study undertaken by CIPS, the top Chief Procurement Officers in the UK weighed in on what makes a successful procurement professional. One piece of advice from the respondents was:
“Take every opportunity you can to do more than your day job. If you want to progress you have to go above and beyond your area of responsibility and contribute more widely to corporate goals.”
So how do you tell if a candidate has this fire? Well, you can ask about their experience and also their suggestions for the company as a whole.
They should be able to identify their role within the much wider success of the company and contribute suggestions on how these processes can be improved. Their future goals can also be telling: do they want to learn on the job or are they content with the qualifications that they have?
These employees are the ones that will come to you with new tech trends, ideas to make your suppliers feel appreciated, and solutions to the problems of tomorrow. They’re a clear asset to the business and alert you of the things that you should be doing to take your organisation above and beyond the competition.
Procurement can call for a range of skills far beyond simple negotiation. A successful procurement professional will have strong analytical skills to back up the rest of their skillset. They should be able to manage budgets, supplier costs and outcomes – while reporting back to senior management with clear analysis where appropriate.
There are many different types of learner out there. Some of us react better to visuals and others prefer an audible or written explanation. The procurement professional has to be able to translate their work into easily digestible chunks for different types of learner within the management team.
Quick analytical thinking also aids in negotiation. Processing the offer on the table and cross-referencing this with the budget can be demanding for those that don’t have strong skills in this area. Being able to call on facts, figures and competitor quotes gives a more concrete foundation for leveraging the right price.
Hesitation or lack of knowledge can give the other party the upper hand, leading to a poor outcome for the deal. This can also potentially lead to overspending, if the procurement professional has the wrong budget in mind.
In a mock negotiation or task during an interview, you can get more of a sense of the depths of skills in this area. You can give the candidate mock figures to use to prepare, then assess how they are able to call on these during the task.
A well-trained procurement professional can be a fantastic asset to your business: check out our industry-standard online CIPS courses to equip them with the skills you need.