May 2011 | Angeline Albert
The procurement profession is experiencing an influx of young
people with analytical skills to maximise cost-saving opportunities.
But these new entrants are not getting the support or training
they need, research by consultancy Efficio has warned.
According to the Grassroots Procurement Survey,
40 per cent of 175 European buyers said they have been working in purchasing
for five years or less. In comparison, a third of all respondents had been
working in the profession for at least 15 years.
James Jenkinson, vice-president at Efficio, told SM: “A lot of companies are realising
the need for a more analytical approach to procurement to understand where
there are cost-saving opportunities which will also help them negotiate with
“Rather than put pressure on
suppliers to drive down prices, this analytical approach requires the
recruitment of new people who have a numbers-driven skill set. This approach
brings a new breed of procurement people – involving a rise of the geek.”
But the study, conducted
between September and December last year, found poor training and heavy
workloads was hindering their purchasing.
Fewer than one in ten buyers
said their training was of a high standard. Efficio said it is often too
general and must be better tailored to the specific needs of purchasers.
Another key challenge was that
two thirds of respondents managed at least 31 suppliers. The consultancy warned
buyers must not be over-burdened with the management of too many suppliers. Focusing
on a small number of core categories produces better results, increases staff
motivation and improves relationships.
More than a quarter of
respondents admitted they never or rarely changed suppliers, and half did not
challenge specifications drawn up by non-professionals. In addition, just 19
per cent said they always provide feedback to suppliers, leading to a worsening
in buyer-supplier relations. Most businesses were found to follow a formal
sourcing process, but 67 per cent indicated this would be completed in 10 weeks
“Times are changing in the
world of procurement – it is becoming a younger profession making a huge
contribution within the organisation,” said Jenkinson. “However there are still
some serious weaknesses. Too much training is very general and fails to meet
their needs. These gaps need to be filled so that procurement people can help
make business more efficient, save money and improve services.”