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"Half our job is to learn".

Value creationTalent skills and leadershipBlog

In our recent Next Decade event in San Francisco, we hosted over 50 CPOs and other procurement executives to explore the issues which will affect purchasing in the future. Many believed that the challenges themselves will be constantly changing and thus our ability to face them will be determined by our ability to change.


I managed our roundtable looking at value chain engineering, one of the five topic areas which will shape our function over the next ten years.


It is interesting to see how, in this area of market analytics and steady calculation, that the soft skills of buyers came to the fore.


Not only is the competency to map our complex value chains potentially critical to future purchasing functions, but our agility in adapting to rapid change is also rising as a key issue.


One of the CPOs argued that buyers - who are constantly evaluating the market and responding to stakeholder and business requirements - must have a fleetness of foot when managing projects.


“Half our job is to learn,” he argued, “people’s needs are changing so much, and we need to respond to that.”


Interestingly, this ability for buyers to demonstrate flexibility in adding value to the organisation is also apparent when it comes to SRM.


The capabilities of suppliers are also changing, as well as their willingness to come forward with ideas and innovations which could aside the buying organisation in meeting its customers’ needs.


For a SRM specialist that also attended the table, this required relationship managers to openly go to suppliers and ask, “what do you think?”


It is by responding to these changes that procurement can build a flexible and agile value chain that has a significant competitive advantage. But, in order to get there, buyers must have the ability to learn, adapt and seize the opportunity when it is before them.

Jon Webb
Posted by Jon Webb