Back in January, Source One's spend management team published their predictions for the emerging trends and ongoing discussions that would define Procurement in 2018.

As expected, the first half of 2018 has proven as surprising and uncertain as the years before it. When it comes to Supply Management, however, both the popular and controversial discussions have remained mostly predictable. For every unexpected supply disruption, there's been a number of wholly-anticipated conversations about how to proceed or better prepare in the future.

As expected, Source One's predictions have coincided with some of the year's most widespread and impassioned supply chain debates. Let's take a closer look.

What About Generation X?
"For all their unique skillsets, Millennials lack the wisdom that can only come from decades of experience . . . It's up for professionals between the ages of 35 and 50 to bridge the emerging talent gap."

Mid-way through 2018, it's clear that millennial talent is as popular a topic as ever. The question of how to promote professional growth and inter-generational collaboration inspires conversations within organizations everywhere.

Source One's experts have discussed the issue repeatedly on the Strategic Sourceror. Procurement Transformation Practice Lead, Jennifer Ulrich stressed the importance of eliminating generational stereotypes and cited mentorship programs as a possible method for encouraging harmony across generations and experience-levels. "Not enough organizations," she writes, "spend the time to develop a thorough succession plan with their senior leaders - and so much of that tribal knowledge exists alone with those individuals when they retire."

No More "One-Size-Fits-All" Hiring
"Going beyond the numbers means developing and implementing strategies, managing stakeholder relationships, and predicting future trends. This will require skills and expertise and varied as Procurement's value proposition."

Since its founding, Source One has believed in the strategic potential of the Procurement professional. The function's strategic evolution over the last decade has both vindicated and inspired their efforts to rewrite its value proposition and help organizations realize its full potential. In 2018, it's clearer than ever that what - more than anything else - Procurement requires world-class talent to continue this evolutionary process.

Naseem Malik echoes Source One's predictions in his contribution to their most recent whitepaper. In Procurement Transformation: Industry Perspectives, he writes, "The mold for a leading Procurement professional has changed. It's changing at this very moment." These changes, he suggests, are the result of ongoing shifts in Procurement's responsibilities. Now that the department is expected to make strategic decisions and behave proactively, it can longer rely on old job descriptions.

It's not enough for organizations to rework their definition of Procurement talent. In 2018, Malik remarks, a more aggressive, high-energy recruitment strategy has also become necessary. Business behemoths like Amazon and Google have recognized what a world-class Procurement function can mean for their organizations. Pursuing far more than cost reduction, they're actively poaching leading supply chain talent. Though not every company can act quite as aggressively as the brand-name companies, Malik believes any Procurement organization can learn a thing or two from their efforts.

Procurement Rethinks Retention
"To retain top talent, Procurement groups need to apply a proactive, strategic method to employee management. Constructive feedback, recognition, and professional advancement must become part of an ongoing dialogue."

When Source One published What's Next for Procurement back in January, the ever-widening talent gap was among the widely-discussed, anxiety-inducing topics in all of Supply Management. 6 months later, not a whole lot has changed. Organizations still recognize the importance of recruiting and retaining top talent, but they remain largely uncertain in their ability to do so. This year's Deloitte Global CPO survey reports that only 49% of Procurement leaders believe their team has the necessary skills to deliver on their strategies. Clearly, keeping world-class hires on-board is still a distinct challenge.

On the Source One Podcast, Senior Project Analyst Jennifer Engel presented employee rotational programs as a potential solution to Procurement's retention problem. These programs will provide new hires with first-hand exposure to Procurement's cross-department impact and myriad responsibilities. This will promote engagement by preventing the work day from growing too routine and help the hire develop the diverse skillsets modern Procurement teams require. Rotational programs could prove especially valuable, Engel suggests, in keeping millennial talent from jumping ship. "Millennials," she reminds listeners, "change jobs more frequently than any previous generation." A diverse and dynamic workday could make the difference in convincing them to settle down and grow with your organization.

Check out What's Next for Procurement for more of Source One's 2018 predictions. If you read it back in January, now's the perfect time for a refresher. If you missed it, why not give it a read and see for yourself how our forecasts panned out? Either way, make sure to visit the Strategic Sourceror every day for more reflections on Supply Management's ongoing and emerging developments.

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