The top 10 skills in demand by procurement managers

12 May 2022

Procurement training is “not adequate” to develop the most important skills for the future, according to a report. 

Many organisations are struggling to secure skilled procurement professionals to “lead the function into the future”, the report by research group APQC found.

The report found soft skills were the most in-demand skills specified by procurement managers, followed by business ethics, communication, stakeholder management, and relationship building. 

However, there was a “distinct disconnect” between the skills being requested and where procurement teams were investing development budgets. Only 12% of organisations focused their development on soft skills. 

The report, which surveyed 204 procurement professionals globally, said: “It’s clear that the skills future procurement professionals need most are those that help them build relationships with internal stakeholders and suçpliers, make difficult judgement calls, and translate business needs into procurement decisions.”

It found procurement teams that do not invest in skills development risked increased costs.

The report continued: “The consequences of not addressing these gaps are huge. If organisations cannot develop these skills in-house, they will be forced to secure them through external hires and/or consultants. This will increase the procurement function’s costs dramatically. But the only other option is to simply not develop these skills—and that’s even more dangerous.” 

APQC found large gaps between how highly rated skills were and the amount of investment going into developing them. While almost 60% said business ethics was “critical”, only one-third said they were effective at helping employees develop this skill. 

The report recommended procurement teams on a budget focus on building training on one specific skill. “For example, one in-depth course on a topic like negotiation, conflict resolution, or leadership may pay greater dividends than investing in supply chain credentialing.” 

The report concluded: “Expectations for procurement’s performance are high and growing higher. Without buy-in from leadership, procurement will not have the resources to develop the next generation of talent.” 

Top business skills requested by procurement managers (percentage citing them as “critical”):

1. Business ethics (59.8%)

2. Communication (55.9%)

3. Stakeholder management (54.9%)

4. Relationship building and management (52%)

5. Critical thinking (48%)

6. Supplier relationship management (47.1%)

7. Leadership (46.6%)

8. Complex decision-making (42.2%)

9. Traditional negotiation (41.2%)

10. Team player (39.7%)

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