4 Must-Have Skills for the Procurement Manager of Tomorrow
Digitalization in procurement is in full swing. In addition to automating transactional processes, which is already standard in many companies, digitalization in procurement today also extends to tactical and strategic processes. Procurement managers’ daily routines will change soon.
What skills will the procurement managers of tomorrow need? What will their strengths be?
Thomas Dieringer, Managing Director of JAGGAER EMEA, sat down with executives from first-class companies KPMG Germany, ZEISS, riskmethods, and EcoVadis to discuss these questions at the Digital Procurement Day event.
The experts agreed on 4 must-have skills that will make or break future procurement managers. Do you already have what it takes?
Skill 1: Technophile
When asked how new technology would change the requirements for future procurement officers, Dr. Marcus Schüller, Head of Operations Consulting at KPMG Germany, predicted that the profile for procurement officers would change: “The role of technology in strategic aspects of procurement needs to expand. Procurement officers of the future will need well-developed analytical skills, which, traditionally, hasn’t really been a core competence for that position so far. In addition to a new skill set, these procurement officers will also need to be willing and prepared to learn about and implement new technology. This is especially important for the older generation so that they don’t lose touch.”
Skill 2: IT-Coordinator
Lothar Färber, Vice President of Procurement at ZEISS and experienced manager in the field of procurement, also contributed his expertise to the discussion. He also expects the procurement manager profile to change: “Today, tough negotiators are in high demand, but in the future, companies will be looking for IT coordinators who can coordinate all of the tools that help procurement collect and analyze data. Even though automation is steadily becoming the standard, companies will always need people to direct internal strategic projects and tasks.” ZEISS has already made digitalization a top priority for the next few years in its “ZEISS Agenda 2020” strategy, and has outlined key goals for its executives. The company wants to start catering to the customer of tomorrow by using digitalization to improve the usability of its products and make them more attractive.
Skill 3: Decisions Based on Transparent Data
Tanja Reilly, Account Executive at EcoVadis, the first company to run a collaborative platform for CSR and sustainability data in global supply chains, expects the digital revolution to bring big changes. Reilly expects that the company’s own technology will change, and so will the way in which customers use EcoVadis software. EcoVadis is already using a tool to organize data and support analysts make the most of their skills. “In the future, we will use technology that allows us to achieve more scalable data analysis, which is critical when monitoring global supply chains with thousands of suppliers. When we look at how our clients are using digital technology, we can see that transparency in the supply chain has become increasingly necessary as a result of pressure from external factors, such as regulations, laws and stakeholder requirements. Because of this, companies are taking a more holistic approach to sustainability in the supply chain and are more willing to invest in integrated systems. At the end of the day, data needs to be collected cumulatively and used intelligently so that companies can make the right decisions based on current data,” Reilly explains.
Skill 4: Platform Thinking and Mind Sharing
Heiko Schwarz, the CEO of riskmethods, a provider of a SaaS supply chain risk management solution, emphasized the importance of platform thinking, which would become easier thanks to digitalization. “The work is too expensive for individual companies, so it’s important that we share our knowledge so generate added value. This can include the results of an audit, for example, that is shared within a community that shares certain interests.” Schwarz also shared his thoughts on the procurement officer of tomorrow: “Adding value will increasingly fall to suppliers and sub-suppliers, but at the same time, buffers that regulate supply disruptions will begin to disappear. The procurement officers of tomorrow will no longer just be evaluated based on how much they’re able to save, but will also be responsible for protecting their companies from risks, and avoid unnecessary costs.
So What Does the Future of Procurement Look Like?
The procurement officers of tomorrow will be coordinators and facilitators instead of hardline negotiators. They will also need a healthy amount of natural curiosity and enthusiasm for new technology, and will need to find and implement the right tools to make the best decisions based on cumulative data. The experts also agree that digitalization will bring more opportunities than risks for procurement. In addition to preparing for the challenges that will face the procurement officer of the future, companies should also recognize the hidden potential of different business models and actively pursue new cooperative approaches by using intelligent tools in procurement.