Soft skills training needed for successful procurement teams

13 April 2018

Collaboration, effective communication and creativity are the top competencies required for effective procurement teams, a recent survey has found.

These three competencies were rated as the most important for a successful procurement team in a survey of procurement managers, CPOs, FCIPS and MCIPS and professors, conducted in conjunction with Supply Management. For leaders, the top attributes were given as emotional intelligence and influencer-communicator.

One third of respondents have had no formal training or development in relation to people skills (33%). Yet over 68% of respondents spend more than 40% of their working day in direct engagement with people, through meetings, conference calls, mentoring, coaching or presentations.

Additionally, 88% of those surveyed said that the organisational decisions are not based entirely on facts and data.

Investment into soft skills is not sufficient, said David Loseby, author of the survey. He pointed to the list of seven critical skills noted by the World Economic Forum, and that only four were seen in any scale through the respondents’ answers. Those missing were: initiative and entrepreneurship; assessing and analysing information; and curiosity and imagination.

The most effective procurement teams have already reached base cost on commodities and services, said Loseby, so value can only be created through new ways of working, primarily through innovation. He found, through interviews, that there was a lack of big dreamers in a profession steeped in process and methodology.

Trust and collaboration are important points of relationship management, the research highlighted, and for it to be successful, said Loseby, it cannot be a tick box exercise, but requires an ongoing focus and understanding.

The introduction of data scientists, AI, and robotics will force operating models to reconfigure, said Loseby. Procurement will need to change its ways, “reinforcing and bringing to the fore people skills as the new entry ticket to be the new breed of value architects”, he said.

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