The 6 Competencies You Need for Digital Procurement

Digitising the procurement function is your number one priority. Along with nearly all procurement teams worldwide, you’ve already started this process. Unfortunately, you’ve no doubt discovered significant skills gaps preventing you from taking full advantage of all that digitisation has to offer. You’re not alone.

83% of respondents to an Ivalua study believe better digital skills would have helped their business navigate the COVID-19 landscape more successfully, while nine out of ten find it challenging to locate and hire those with the skills needed to work with AI, data analytics and cloud-based platforms.

The need for these competencies is only going to grow, with McKinsey reporting that 69% of procurement leaders expect digital solutions to be more valuable in the future than they are today.

To address these gaps, you first need to know precisely what skills digital procurement is calling for.

The key competencies for a digitally savvy workforce

Commercial acumen

It may seem like a digital transformation calls only for technical skills, but this isn’t necessarily so. While new technology revolutionises the procurement function, soft skills remain a core requirement, and commercial acumen especially so. This key competency is, broadly, about capturing value. Identify and make the right decisions around contracts and achieve goals faster with less effort and disruption. A person well versed in this area understands their organisation’s complex needs and how procurement can address them using new digital capabilities.

Relationship management

Another soft skill. Managing stakeholders is a crucial aspect of the procurement function, whether we’re talking about employees, partners or vendors. Multiple channels of communication need to be maintained and competing interests and priorities must be reconciled. Digital procurement will allow for greater collaboration and input from more participants, so relationship management will remain vital while growing in complexity.

Supply risk management

Procurement teams have to operate in increasingly volatile markets. As risk increases, we have to move from being reactive to proactive and develop innovation when it comes to predicting and solving issues. One of the most desirable aspects of advanced digital procurement is the adoption of powerful AI and machine learning, which allows procurement officers to foresee potential issues within the supply chain. Identifying these issues, however, is only half the game. To take full advantage of this information, supply risk management skills need to be elite and honed so the right frameworks can be developed and the right decisions made.

Strategic mindset

The procurement department needs to be viewed as a tool to help an organisation achieve its over-arching goals. Too often, this tool is only used as a cost-cutting mechanism. With digital procurement comes advanced software and greater access to pivotal data. Procurement officers need to become strategists, using crucial information to develop frameworks, advise on best practices and address challenges to help achieve organisation-wide initiatives.

Data Analysis

With digital procurement comes powerful AI and machine learning, able to cleanse and organise the mountains of data the modern organisation deals with every day. To take advantage of this cutting-edge technology, procurement officers need a deep knowledge of spend analysis and data visualisation tools. With modern software and the right expertise, the procurement department has the capability to identify trends, outliers, areas of innovation and episodes of non-compliance.

Virtual Negotiation Skills

A subset of relationship management, but one that deserves its own mention. The virtual world has transformed the art of negotiation. Now, it can take place over a video-conference platform, the phone, even a chat window. Knowing which service to use when is a crucial skill of this new-age form of negotiating, and many procurement professionals are finding themselves lost when the table is replaced with a camera (which may are forgetting to even turn on). This isn’t about brushing up on old skills, but developing new ones relevant to a new form of communication.

Focus on your areas of weakness

The modern procurement officer needs to be well versed in a number of digital procurement competencies. Skilling up, however, takes time and money, and you don’t want to waste them on areas in which you’re already strong. The first step should always be discovering your weaknesses so that the training you invest in is targeted and valuable. The team at Skills Gap Analysis has deep experience in uncovering digital procurement gaps.

Once you’re aware of your blind spots, Academy of Procurement has eLearning platforms focused on a wide range of digital competencies, and we’re launching new modules all the time. Get in touch today and take advantage of all that digital procurement has to offer.