Listen to the full conversation on the Source One Podcast today.
If you've ever worked in Procurement - or any field for that matter - you've likely suffered through a training experience like the ones Jennifer Ulrich describes on this week's Source One Podcast. While many organizations are moving away from classroom-bound Procurement training programs, a troubling amount still favor this antiquated and ineffective approach.
An expert in Procurement Transformation, Ulrich suggests tedious, hours-long training programs are just one symptom of a much larger problem. For all its emphasis on innovation, the Procurement function still hesitates to change its approach to training and professional development. While Procurement's people aren't necesarilly more important than its tools and processes, Ulrich believes they're at least an equally important component of a best-in-class function.
Why does Procurement neglect to invest in its people? Ulrich offers a few possibilities. Perhaps Procurement is too quick to believe the hype surrounding emerging technologies. With the promised benefits of Artificial Intelligence looming on the horizon, spending money on people can become an afterthought. Ulrich cautions organizations against this kind of thinking. "Whatever these tools are ultimately capable of," she says, "they'll never fully replace Procurement's people." If anything, Procurement should take care to update its training programs and begin developing teams capable of effectively leveraging these tools.
Outdated perceptions around Procurement's value, too, hold the function's training programs back. "Many organizations," Ulrich remarks, "still think of Procurement as a purely tactical function." As a result, they're hesitant to invest the proper amount in developing and retaining its people.
She calls for a more dynamic approach to training that emphasizes Procurement's more strategic and multi-functional role. While it's tempting to dismiss "microlearning" programs as a concession to shortening attention spans, Ulrich suggests they're tailor-made for Procurement's next generation. Millennials in particular want flexibility in the workplace. A self-led, gradual training program provides this flexibility from day one.
Ulrich concludes by acknowledging that it's hard to tie an ROI to professional development. She reminds listeners, however, that investing in Procurement's people certainly does pay dividends. Procurement's emerging leaders want to work for companies that are committed to professional growth and presenting hires with new responsibilities. "Investing in Procurement's people doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars," but it could help an organization earn far more from a dedicated, engaged, and well-trained team.