Veteran procurement expert, Kelly Barner, has urged practitioners engaged in procurement transformation to maintain ‘the transformational mindset’ and hone the human skills needed to keep the function progressing.
Ms Barner chronicles the multi-year journey that procurement has undertaken to transform from a function widely seen as a bean-counting obstacle to business agility, to a crucial business process.
It entailed streamlining procurement processes, upgrading technology, developing in-house category management expertise, or sourcing relevant experts in a trusted procurement consultancy to undertake the work, and continuing with effective cost-reduction efforts.
But what about the new skills required for procurement professionals ‘post-transformation’?
Barner is forthright: “I believe that the very skills required to stage a transformation are the same ones that procurement needs to thrive afterwards.”
Barner refers to the kind of human skills that new machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies cannot emulate.
Multi-form communication: The capacity to excel in lucid speaking, careful, accurate listening, interpreting the body language of others.
Procurement pros must be able to interact well in person with different levels of internal colleagues as well as strategic suppliers.
Influence and execution: This is somewhat paradoxical, as both presuppose one another: professionals become trusted influencers by executing their commitments well and on time but, in turn, executing commitments essentially relies on the ability to influence.
The role of procurement pros following the 2008 global recession in achieving vital cost-reductions has honed these duel skills, enabling these practitioners to influence opinions behind doors once closed to them.
Strategic outlook: Solutions such as strategic sourcing are immensely valuable, but so is the procurement team’s creative ability to craft new visionary plans to advance the company forward.
As Barner says: “As our vision for transformed procurement has become clearer, we’ve been able to put various strategies in place to make it a reality… sooner rather than later.”