Procurement must adopt a “consultancy mindset” to stay relevant as processes become digitalised, a conference was told.
Michelle Baker, CPO at Dutch telecoms firm KPN, said buyers needed to develop relationship skills so they were “winning the hearts and minds of internal customers”.
Speaking at ProcureCon Indirect in Copenhagen Baker said: “You need to think like a leader.
“If I am used to running a process I need to have a very different skillset.”
She said the skills required for customer orientation – such as relationships, pitching an idea, handling negotiations, campaigning for change – “are not the process skills procurement are expected to have”.
“Develop competencies so people think of themselves as leaders,” she said.
Baker said buyers must be “policeman and administrator on one side and bring innovation into organisations on the other”.
She said the consultancy role required life-long learning, the delegation of decisions to the lowest possible level and a high level of trust. “If every decision has to come through me we are never going to be agile,” she said.
“Personal development is probably the most important focus in 2019.”
Baker said procurement was being asked to do more and more and decisions had to be made around whether repetitive tasks could be handed off to others, such as a shared business services department.
Previously Baker told SM she expected 50-70% of the source-to-contract process to be automated in the future.
“How do we get our people to understand power, influencing skills?” she said.
“The realisation you are brilliant at the process but terrible at relationships is a scary one.”