Six “new” purchasing skills have been identified as vital to your career success in 2015 as compared to 2010. This is one of the main findings of a survey completed by the European Institute of Purchasing Management (EIPM) which asked Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) about which skills they feel will be most required in the future.

As shown in the chart below, just four of the top 10 rated skills (listening, category study, market knowledge, and integrity) were on the list for both 2010 and 2015. Six new skills made the top 10 for 2015, ranging from abilities in strategic thinking to change management.

Top 10 Procurement Skills 2010 & 2015

Key roles in 2015
Specialized category and commodity managers with a combination of advanced analytical abilities and well developed inter-personal skills will be most sought after. In the EIPM research the CPOs were asked to define the major challenges looming for the purchasing function, apart from the obvious ones around cost containment. These included understanding and dealing with changes in the global marketplace, especially as a result of mergers and acquisitions and the impact of trading in low-cost emerging markets.

Although financial and statistical analysis is a backroom sort of role, it is vital to the success of a procurement organization. An understanding of value analysis and the use of supply chain techniques such as Six Sigma and “lean” manufacturing will be highly regarded, especially where make-or-buy decisions are critical. Business analysts with these advanced skills will attract a premium.

A growth area in purchasing management is sustainability, especially in enterprises with wide visibility. There will be a role for a dedicated person to attend to “green” issues such as reducing the use of fuel, water and power, recycling and waste management and limiting the overall environmental impact of the supply chain.

Other EIPM research has identified the procurement skills that have the largest gap between the average procurement manager and the leaders in each skill based on more than 1000 assessments of individual procurement managers. Those with the biggest delta are:

  • Project management
  • Market industry knowledge
  • Total cost of ownership
  • Value engineering and value analysis
  • Supplier market analysis
  • Payment conditions
  • Financial analysis of suppliers
  • Supplier relationship management
  • Budget setting
  • Decision taking on make or buy

Not surprisingly, EIPM observes that most companies are not doing enough to develop procurement talent within their own organizations. That comes not only from lack of focus and resources put towards talent development, but also “knowledge bottlenecks” that limit the sharing of ideas and best practices within organizations.