Training a company’s team members is a foundational step in running a company, one that is often forgotten when busy times hit. It shouldn’t be. Putting the time and effort into designing a training program that suits the unique needs of procurement will drive more effective results in less time. Employees will be better equipped to manage the various situations and surprises that sourcing across numerous categories brings about. The more they are trained, the more valuable they become and the better they can enhance the productivity and benefits of the company in the long run.
One of the first stages in developing a solid procurement team involves navigating the landscape to identify the appropriate talent. Depending on available positions and required experience, companies are often successful in finding this talent from hiring within their pool of college interns. As these employees would be considered entry level, they will require a bit more attention and hands-on training as they work with their mentor or project manager to learn the ropes. A formal mentorship program will reflect your investment in them and enable them to learn valuable best practices.
For more experienced hires, the training and extra attention will ensure alignment from their prior work experience to the expectations of the current company and position. It is important for the company to have a dedicated recruiting team to bring in the talent. Retention, however, is at least equally important. Programs for continuous skill development must ensure that new hires evolve alongside your organization and within the procurement function itself.
As employees join the team, their interests and areas in which they excel should be assessed. By identifying these, management can place newly on-boarded procurement professionals in a direct or indirect material category in which they will enjoy working and can add value. Organizations might also consider introducing rotational programs to provide new hires with a diverse set of experiences. Exposing hires to procurement’s broad range of responsibilities will encourage them to feel invested in their professional development as well as your organization’s ongoing progress.
Setting the employees up for success means granting them access and properly teaching them how to use internal and external systems such as spend analytics tools, contract management software, ERP systems, and any other technologies that the company uses. Regular check-ins and clear development paths should ensure the new hires develop fluency in these tools as well as accepted policies and best practices.
Once the team is operating efficiently, management should schedule periodic meetings to: evaluate the employee’s progression and understanding of the categories; ensure the training process is effective; and measure progress to confirm that the employee is performing to expectations. To further the employee’s training and skill development, management can develop a growth plan that targets a specific skill category such as: procurement and sourcing expertise, category management, strategizing and problem-solving, supplier relationship management, analytical and negotiation skills. The more an employee is exposed to these skills and practice them in their own work, the more valuable they become to the client and procurement team. Ultimately, when the procurement team achieves success, the company benefits. To ensure these programs remain effective, leadership should survey their participants for feedback. This will keep programs adaptable to emerging issues and trends.
Training and developing employees is highly recommended and certainly applicable throughout the entire organization, however it is especially crucial in key areas such as sourcing and procurement. If training and skill development programs are implemented correctly, companies and their clients can benefit tremendously from being well equipped with a growing team of knowledgeable people to carry out various projects and provide clients with faster and better results. Successful employees lead to a successful business.