Source One's new whitepaper series presents reflections from a number of Supply Management thought leaders. Providing their unique perspectives, these experts discuss the evolving and ever-popular issue of Procurement Transformation. This week, we're taking a closer look at the series' third installment. Titled "People, Processes, Technologies," it examines the interdependence of Procurement's various components.

MRA Global Sourcing's Naseem Malik opens Part 3 of Procurement Transformation: Industry Perspectives with a question. He asks, "What's the most important tool for constructing an effective Procurement department?"

It's a big question. One that Procurement professionals might feel tempted to any answer in any number of ways. Malik dismisses several suggestions before settling on what truly fuels successful teams. "Even in the days of consistent innovation and endless forecasting, he writes, "people are still what separates world-class Procurement departments from the pack."

Deloitte's latest CPO survey suggests most departments can't claim world-class status. Less than half of respondents reported confidence that "their current teams have sufficient level of skills and capabilities to deliver their Procurement strategy." What's more troubling perhaps is that confidence is the highest it's been since 2013.

So, what are Procurement teams doing to build these skills and capabilities? Many are conducting Procurement Transformations with an emphasis on talent management.

Malik remarks that nearly every transformation he's encountered has placed a particular emphasis on Procurement's people. It's not hard to see why. The crowded and competitive market for Procurement talent is an everyday subject on industry blogs and podcasts. More strategic Procurement departments means a more spirited hunt for the best professionals. From the mid-market to the true business behemoths, nearly everyone is clamoring to optimize their purchasing function.

For small and mid-sized organizations the battle for promising hires can look like a hopeless one. The true business behemoths are behaving more aggressively than ever as they strive to secure the next generation of innovative and flexible supply chain professionals.

To stay in the race, Malik recommends smaller organizations borrow liberally from the household names. No, it's not likely that any mid-sized company can mimic the big guys at their most ambitious. You don't have to go over-the-top, however, to apply some of their best practices. A more aggressive approach to recruiting could mean seeking outside help from a dedicated contractor or simply refining the interview process to better communicate your Procurement department's unique brand.

He takes care to warn readers that pursing talent too aggressively can be as detrimental as a long, drawn-out hiring process. "The discerning candidate," he writes "can smell desperation." Finding the appropriate pace will take time, but with some effort Procurement teams should learn what their ideal candidate is looking for throughout this process.

Recruitment is less than half the battle.

Throughout his contribution, Malik reiterates that retaining hires is just as important as getting them in the door in the first place. A talent management program that prides open, constructive feedback and establishes clear career paths will help make new hires feel motivated to stay the course and help drive the future of your organization. Remember, the best Procurement professionals won't do you any good if they're constantly looking for the exit.

Malik closes by reminding readers that, whatever their approach, "A Procurement Transformation will only be as successful as the practitioners in charge of executing it." Procurement leaders who fail to invest in refining their approach to talent today could find themselves out of a job tomorrow.

Check out Part 3 of Procurement Transformation: Industry Perspectives for more insights from Naseem Malik. 
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