Tag Archives: skills gap

The Missing Link: Why Procurement Competency Assessments Alone Fail to Make the Grade

Don’t get me wrong–as one of the original developers of the on-line procurement competency assessment in 2004, I am still a strong advocate of the process because it provides a directional compass indicating where a team’s skill should be developed. The problem is that many companies offering training and development have limited knowledge concerning team dynamics, industry specialization and capability of the team to deliver on the mission and vision of the procurement leader.

High performing teams are comprised of individuals that have the technical procurement competency combined with these attributes:

  1. The ability to influence
  2. Effective communication skills (oral and written)
  3. Collaboration and relationship skills
  4. Intellectual comprehension
  5. Process skills
  6. Creativity and Innovation
  7. Drive and energy
  8. Curiosity and ability to test the boundaries
  9. Planning skills including ability to correct the course of action when necessary
  10. Financial thinking

In the past 25 years of coaching, mentoring and training thousands of procurement leaders, I’ve learned a few things. Personality is a key driver in performance. For example, to be effective, procurement folks should be curious and a little like the Columbo character–always questioning. The best procurement people question specifications, cost, process, geography, business requirements, supplier selections, performance and everything in-between. If you’re naturally curious, this comes easy; if you accept information as facts, questioning is a learned skill.

I have conducted face-to-face assessment centers to test for overall competence and it has been effective in recruiting. I am now working on a new model that combines technical skills with personality attributes online to help leaders build high performing teams.

Are you content with your assessment?

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Why Supply Chain Skills Assessment Fails and Total Competency Assessment Succeeds

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When reviewing the current state of purchasing and supply chain in organizations, I am amazed at the talent and the core skills that are lacking. In many cases the companies have segmented procurement and supply chain jobs in a finite way so that the individuals on the team only know their functional activities. Over time this functional focus results in many people showing a lack of curiosity or interest in their career. To reach business goals, organizations need a curious, motivated team with the functional skills as well as business acumen. Like reading skills, just because you can read all of the words doesn’t mean you can comprehend the meaning and understand the paragraph’s importance to the story.

In my experience, I’ve learned that true competency assessment requires a way to determine if individuals have the desired thinking, practices and behavioral skills the organization needs. These are hard to evaluate in a standard skillset gap analysis or personality profile. While standard competency assessments are great at determining functional skillset gaps and personality profiling and emotional quotients can help build a team that can work together, both fall short of determining how well a person is able to use those skills to develop actionable strategies based on knowledge, experience, process, rational competency, business acumen and execution capability.

Competent procurement and supply chain practitioners must have a natural curiosity, personal drive, interest in how the business works and an understanding of the end-to-end process that they are involved in as well as the technical skills for the role. If individuals are content in a limited, functional, tactical role without the understanding of the processes, business acumen, and relationship capabilities, it is likely they’ll not add value to the business in the long term.

When a business has launched a major initiative to transform procurement and supply chain, often the senior executive team is unwilling to invest time, money and energy in developing the team to reach the new desired levels of performance. While some people in the organization will not meet the new requirements, others will with minimal support and development. To determine who has potential, I recommend a conducting assessment centers. The assessment center process consists of a two-day evaluation of individuals and teams. It determines the presence and application of problem solving skills, technical knowledge, business knowledge, relationship building skills, initiative and influencing skills. Participants are giving a series of case studies that require solving custom designed business cases. This process is very successful in succession planning and identification of high potential employees.

Assessment centers provide a total competency profile, but for successful implementation of a program, organizations must build an action plan for the way forward. Without a development strategy, the value drain is significant over time and the potential of skilled individuals is under optimized.

Assessing competency is critical for any organization.

Does your organization rely on functional tests?