What's powering the procurement profession?

Written by: Supply Management
Published on: 28 Jul 2020

The good news about procurement salaries

The latest Procurement Salary Guide from CIPS and Hays shows the profession is more valued, and better rewarded, than ever – but will coronavirus change the picture?


Has there ever been a better time to be a procurement professional? Individuals who’ve worked flat out in recent months ensuring supply chains function effectively during a global pandemic might take issue with the idea. But in terms of monetary reward, they’ve arguably never had it better.

The 2020 CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide, the sixth annual global snapshot of what the profession earns and which skills it needs to flourish, found that overall pay for procurement professionals rose by 4.9% in the UK in 2019, compared to a national average increase of just 3.4%. 

In total, 73% of respondents to the survey, conducted by Hays, received a salary increase, with senior category managers particularly likely to enjoy a pay rise. The private sector generally received higher increases than others, leading to a marginal rise in the differential with the public sector – private sector practitioners are now paid 22% more at the most senior level, though this drops to single figures for more junior staff.

There are many factors driving the impressive figures, but undoubtedly the enhanced standing of the profession among senior leaders is encouraging businesses to invest in procurement: 70% of respondents across all sectors agreed procurement was valued in their organisation, another year-on-year improvement.

The skills to succeed

As procurement becomes more central to organisations, so the specific skills required to progress in the profession shift, with a particular emphasis on ‘soft’ skills which build influence and increase exposure to senior leaders. In the 2020 survey, internal stakeholder management featured prominently across more senior procurement roles, with influencing the number one requirement for professionals and advanced professionals. 

It’s part of a broader shift towards the concept of ‘behavioural procurement’ – the idea that as professionals have access to broader and deeper data, they add value not by crunching the numbers but by interpreting information, helping relevant stakeholders understand it and formulating strategies to take advantage of new opportunities. That means emotional intelligence, communication and behavioural psychology will become every bit as important as technical knowhow.

The other factor that distinguishes professional expertise, the survey confirms, is a professional qualification. Almost two thirds (66%) of employers across all sectors and levels said they requested MCIPS designation (chartered membership of CIPS) during recruitment, while MCIPS holders received a 17% larger pay rise than their peers last year.

The global picture

The varied levels of maturity of the profession in different regions, as well as vastly different economic circumstances, are reflected in the levels of pay increase received in 2019. This varied from 10.5% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 10.3% across the Middle East and North Africa, compared to 4.6% in Australia and New Zealand and 4.8% in North America.

But the global view is about more than just pay: across the UK, Australasia and South Africa, professionals were united in regarding their biggest challenge as being seen as a strategic partner to the business. And 93% of respondents globally viewed technology as an enabler to create opportunities for procurement. 

What happens next

The survey is notable for being conducted before the coronavirus pandemic, and it seems undoubtable that the global economic situation will lead to highly constrained pay during 2020. But there could be an upside to the upheaval: the ability to work flexibly or work from home appeared among the top six most desired benefits for every level of procurement professional in the Hays/CIPS survey, and businesses which embed the practice into their models may find they have a significant strategic advantage in sourcing future talent. With pay rises off the agenda, it may prove the best way to reward employees in the short term.

It’s also clear procurement, in common with other functions, must get to grips with the gender pay gap and ensure this does not slide off the agenda. At advanced professional level, the gap shrank by 2% in 2019 but remains at 33% – clear evidence that procurement has work to do to hit its own laudable aspirations for inclusion.

Link to guide