Procurement managers must act to plug talent gap

8 October 2012

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8 October 2012 | Rebecca Ellinor

There will always be a talent gap in procurement, so managers need to bring in new people and develop the best staff they have, according to Tim Carrier from Capita Consulting.

Addressing delegates at the CIPS Annual Conference in London last week, the head of product development said that having looked back at news coverage over the past few years, he was concerned there will always be a shortfall. “Procurement guys have really valuable skills. I’ve been involved in major procurement acquisitions over the past few years – it’s powerful stuff. No wonder everyone’s in demand.”

He proposed that organisations develop their own pipeline of talent either internally or by drawing people in, to save on recruitment agency costs. “If you go direct to the source, it makes it cheaper,” he said.

“Retain and motivate the people you’ve got so you don’t lose them. Give them autonomy, the chance to get involved and the ability to build relationships and solutions.”

Carrier said bosses need to get people to believe in what their organisation is doing. “Create team spirit and lead by example. It’s important to have a good brand and reputation and create a culture that people want to work in. Be demanding and challenging of your staff in the same way you are with suppliers and get rid of dead wood. Move the weaker people out and get new people in.”

He said it is the nature of good individuals that they will always want to move onwards and upwards. “If you can’t promote or develop them any further, your organisation will lose that expertise so you will need to find new people.”

He said businesses should consider offering incentives other than just higher salaries, which inflate costs for everyone in the market. “Performance-related bonuses, for example, or more flexible working.”

Carrier gave examples of Mars and the Department for Work and Pensions. Those organisations are respectively developing talent internally and have set up a procurement management development scheme to bring people in.

“There’s not enough awareness of the profession among the younger generation. If we want to develop the profession, we have to do it because no-one else will,” he said.

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