What's your best top tips to give to someone new to procurement?
A 'newbie' to the world of procurement and would love to know everyone's thoughts!
Depending on your route into procurement.. I would say a top tip would be get your CIPS qualifications, this is the advice I was given by my mentor who is a CPO for a leading manufacturing company. Another tip a large portion of procurement involves meeting and collaboratively working with suppliers, stakeholders, multi-agencies, end users so it helps if you enjoy meeting new people and you can confidently share your thoughts and opinions. Another top tip; if you have ambitions to excel within your procurement career I would say try and get yourself a mentor. Another tip is read... read... read.... read around procurement there is so much information out there on procurement, supply chain management anything and everything you want to know about this' wonderful world of procurement'... I spend a good portion of my day reading procurement material whether on the internet, books, audios. Also ask questions... I work closely with the Head of Procurement for my organisation, and I'm always asking him questions if I don't understand anything or I just want to learn more about something.
To add to the above, in addition to collaboration with stakeholders, listen to their needs and make sure you deliver what they are asking. Go into meetings and discussions with a mindset of helping rather than asking for help. Also, brainstorming for ideas often occurs for ideas outside the box, because most of the time, no one person has the best idea - it's often a combination of everyone's efforts that builds the best solution. I also think that in order to get to collaboration, you need to understand the profession's technical fundamentals by gaining some sort of certification, which one here have provided direction on. Good luck!
Having been in senior procurement positions for the last 18 years in almost every sector, in my book procurement operates most efficiently on spend analysis, ie understanding in your company, area, category or commodity exactly what you are spending on what products with whom and why. I have been asked to save money several times in an area where the spend was low, optimised and attacking it would have been a waste of time, whilst big ticket opportunities would have been ignored. Being able to articulate the spend context has always enabled me to turn that round.
Also look at the art of the possible: benchmarking with peers, existing supply chain frameworks and analysts will give you a real view of how much you can improve your supply chain whether it is reducing cost, improving functionality or decreasing risk.
As an FCIPS I agree with all of the other comments - and above all good luck and enjoy. It is the best job I have ever done!
Irrespective of your qualifications if you want to make the difference I recommend:- 1. Know your supply chains and identify the risks, 2. Do not follow the flow and make your own decisions, 3.Be true to yourself, 4.Be steadfast in the face of adversity, 5. Work for organisations that are ethical and where you are valued, 6. Don't just get CIPS qualifications - get involved with your professional body and learn from your fellow professionals, 7. Don't be afraid of making difficult or unpopular decisions - you are employed to make a difference and not win popularity contests. But above all - enjoy it - it is a great profession.
I agree with all above answers. I would also not be afraid to learn as much as I can about other areas of procurement and not stick to just one type of Procurement. Contracting for good and services leads you into a vast range of monetary and technical expertise and furthers your knowledge of the supply chain and makes you a much more versatile Procurement Specialist. If you have a legal Department don’t be afraid to discuss a problem with them if you’re unable to find the answers you need from another Procurement Specialist because this is a forever changing
environment. Do get your training certification. Make ethical choices when at times you may be pushed to do otherwise. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because it’s part of the learning curve but do own up to those mistakes and learn from them. Always...when in doubt, ask for help. Procurement is competitive, deadline oriented and sometimes stressful but you’ll find working with your clients, whom ever they may be is ultimately the most rewarding approach for both
parties and when the contract is finally complete, there is no greater feeling until you begin your next one!
Read everything you can get your hands on concerning Procurement and Supply Chain until you can get your certification. This site is a great place for help.
Listen closely, the devil is in the details, and what you don’t know that you don’t
know will cost you. So do your best research!
1. Be humble. Learn from everyone. Colleagues and Procurement's stakeholders.
2. Understand the role Procurement plays in the organisation. Do senior executives and stakeholder functions consider the function strategic, or is it considered more of an operational support function? Different business sectors have differing expectations of the role; some high, some less so.
3. Understand Procurement strategy. What are the CPO's goals and targets? Try and get your own contribution clearly defined, so you have real clarity on what you have to do.
4. Be patient. Learn those technical procurement skills that help you bring tangible value to the organisation. Accept that becoming truly competent will take time, and that stakeholders will expect you to be developing and demonstrating expertise. Being nice and collaborative won't be enough. You need to add value.
5. Recognise that managing supply chains and suppliers is not all collaboration and 'partnering'. Sometimes you have to be tough and even unforgiving if supplier performance is poor. Your internal stakeholders will expect you to be no pushover. You might want to prioritise developing your negotiation skills, as your ability to influence internally and externally is going to be particularly important.
All great answers, the great thing is not one answer fits you’re question, as procurement/Purchasing is a fun job. I would just say work on bringing value to your end users and customers (suppliers and co-workers). People, process, and technology. The process and technology, figure what works in the company culture/environment. But, getting people on board and understanding I find
is the key! Create a “win-win” situation.
As previously said, obtain CIPS, know where the money is being spent and build relationships. Listening is the key - find out what you customer wants and work with them to achieve it. Keep it simple and you will bring them with you. :o)
Earn your credentials and gain experience by trial and error. Learn from your mistakes. Join Procurement organizations and learn from your peers. Always have at least three suppliers for a bid/proposal. Visit your Suppliers. How do you know they are not working remote, at home?
The key to procurement is collaboration. Adversarial relationships do not work. It has to be"win-win for both parties.
Support your decisions to (or not to) purchase with data. Understand your supply chain. Become an expert in your field of purchase. View your critical suppliers as partners and develop relationships based on positive mutual benefit.
Enjoy it, it's a great profession that can make a real difference to peoples lives and the planet we live on
Hi Angela, welcome to procurement, have the CIPS qualification you will really enjoy as its much detailed and you will love and relate well with some of the units.
Enjoy what you do and don't forget those procurement skills are transferable so don't be afraid to move companies AND industries.
Hi Angela! Welcome to procurement! Yes, CIPS qualification will be very valuable and worthwhile, but no rush, make sure its the profession for you first, and then commit to the training. You've made an awesome start by being here, and asking this question, but my top tip would be to take every opportunity you can to speak to procurement and business folk in and outside of your organisations. The stronger your network, the better a procurement professional you will develop to be.
Tip to a new Person in Procurement:
1. Do not believe any reports, figures or information unless you check yourself twice including the source.
2. Question ALL SPEND as human beings created spend so ALL SPEND can be eliminated or reduced. This includes Addressable Spend of Excise Duty (Including a Supreme Court Case which was won after 6 years), Customs Duty, Business Taxes on Inventory, Municipal Tax, Interest, etc., areas often over looked in Indirect Spend..
3. THINK OUT OF THE BOX to get savings of not 8% to 15 % per year, but more likely 35% per year. Special today think of RPS, BOTS, Digital Twin Corporate Strategy, Business Moments, and AI.
4. Use the 20,000 eyes and brain of your 10,000 vendors. Ss always meet even walk in vendors. I saved $2 million and $1 million by ideas from walk in vendors. Save time to meet your vendors.
5. Listen to webcasts and scan read 40 white papers in your current areas per week.
6. Always do analysis of what you are buying including TCO, get RFI cost break downs from several vendors including from developing countries and vendors you would not finally select, to enable getting information for negotiating.
Beat advice I can give is to be a business person in Procurement, not the Procurement person in your business.
Speak up if something isn't right. Just because it's always been done that way, doesn't make it right.
Look for opportunities for Procurement to add value to your business. Enabling other streams in your business to be more efficient or aware will only result in repeat business from willing and engaged stakeholders.
Finally, don't be afraid if your journey takes you away from Procurement. The skills you will learn in this profession and role are well sought after and transferable.
in most respects I agree with the comments.
However, it is very important to have close contact between purchasing, development and technology. In a production plant, production is added. In a service intensive product even the service. The most important is the personal contact between seller and buyer. If both are sympathetic, can rely on each other, the gold is worth. You must therefore try to build a good relationship with the seller. It is important not only to talk about business. Try to find out what he / she likes to do privately (recreational activities, hobbies, etc.). And take time for the talks. If the seller is put under pressure, you will never get the best result. If you take your time, you bring him / her appreciation. He / she will thank you. You will achieve your goals much easier and faster. And with much better conditions. The purchase price is not everything. Think also of the follow-up costs (service, spare parts, etc.). If there is no possibility of price, ask for free goods (free service, warranty extension, free consumables, for example, a set of tires, etc.).
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. [email protected]
I would answer this question depending on what "new" really means. For example, is it from high school? from college? from another function? from another discipline? The answers would vary accordingly.Generally, you would need to be open to learning,both formally and informally.Formal would require that you start developing the career through college and many suggestions on how have been provided here.Informal learning will call for being close to your more experienced colleagues,including your supervisor,ask questions,take notes.You will also need networks like this,attend seminars,workshops,develop a reading culture and finally,understand the needs of your industry and customer.
Someone new to Procurement and looking to learn and progress could consider; CIPS qualifications (and project management qualifications in parallel), networking, reading (blogs, articles, whitepapers), say yes to as many challenges as you can - you cannot get involved in enough business projects to build multiple category understanding, and identify some good mentors to learn from
Be curious. Being a good buyer is about having information (product specs, supply market, stakeholder).
Peripheral vision at all times i.e. rather than unit cost think total cost of ownership. Look at impact on all stakeholders and not only benefit to one group.
Get as much information as you can about what you are supposed to buy. And one tip when negotiating: Your task is to make a good deal, not to demonstrate to the world how good at negotiating you really are.
All great recommendations so far. My question back to you is what function are you in today? Are you a practitioner in a procurement operation? Are you a category manager? Are you in Sourcing? Are you a buyer? What is your role? Happy to help!
Tips to help with visions...some great insight https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chuck-norris-your-cpo-roop-sidhu/
To add to my previous advice, is always make clear and precise notes in your file on all steps you have taken in your procurement process including dates, time, changes made along with your initials beside your changes and always print out the information to substantiate your decisions made. If you have a Financial Management Team in your Department or Company you need to work closely with them also as their numbers may not always add up to yours in the procurement process and team work with them is always beneficial especially when it comes to the end of a fiscal year and the pressure is on and mistakes or overlooked extensions to contracts on either end need to be cleared up ASAP and this is where your impeccable note taking of any changes made whether they have been done over the phone or with the client or via email are detailed along with print outs containing the time and date along with your initials. Whatever procurement system or financial system you are using, your notes on file are still your best backup. Having a very detailed file will always be of benefit because sometimes very important information can go astray or be misunderstood but clarified easily if you take precise notes on your procedure and your clients procedure. This will also help in making sure you and your client are on the same page of understanding. As always, enjoy your journey into the procurement world and you will love your profession and take your knowledge anywhere you end up going because it’s so valuable.
My best advice is to find a mentor,or two or a hundred. Procurement is a practice you learn in the trenches, from those that have been there. I've worked for and had work for me multiple PHDs and MBAs, their schooling did little to nothing for them when it comes to negotiating, sourcing and relationship building. (Those I think are the 3 key skills, with some added data analysis).
I've learned the law from a number of great attorneys who were willing to teach me; negotiations from some sophisticated, as well as some surly old warriors; relationship skills from lots of failures; and data skills from jumping in and being willing to learn anything from anyone.
Try to always be learning and growing. Some of my best learning has come from people that I wouldn't talk to if I had a choice; as well as from my worst mistakes.
Good luck, as a career, it can't be beat. I have tried sales as well, but I know which side I belong on, i.e. the buy side. :)
Its all too easy to get it wrong Procurement is a department that too often relies upon draconian financial regulations or even OJEU to bring customers to the table. This approach is both outdated and unnecessarily adversarial. The right way is to provide your internal clients with a truly focused and consultative approach that takes into account their demands and needs and not simply rely on a process to get them on side. They are customers and as such they need both managing and educating. And if you can do that they are then more likely to want to use procurement in the first place, and you will become far more effective.
Get out of the office! Meet your internal customers (aka stakeholders), your suppliers and the communities in which you operate!
Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences on this platform as I noted there isn't wrong answer or right one to this question. I absolutely learned so much taking my time reading each comment posted on this subject and certainly it start from you as a person to be passionate and ambitious.
Also, as a fresh starter entering into the industry, I believe that collaborating with others, don’t shy away from asking questions and networking is key to building a successful career in this challenging industry.
I would highly suggest that you look into implementing a procurement solution, if there isn't one in place already.
Check out www.tradogram.com You can start using it and gaining the benefits of procurement technology completely for free, it scales with you and your company.
Great advice from everyone. As someone who is in the supply chain and not in procurement, my perspective is different. Procurement is where the supply chain typically begins. The direction you start out will determine where you land. Make sure you know your corporate goals and use them as a compass when determining how to proceed with a project. Good luck!
Not specific to procurement only, should be applied as a general rule: Work hard, but more importantly work smart.
Understand the need to learn quickly. It is important to know who are your stakeholders and what their needs are. You need to know your company's business and how your role in procurement can impact its operational processes as well as its strategic objectives. Ensure that you develop the required business management and procurement skills so that you can undertake problem solving initiatives, guide your business partners and take leadership roles in procurement projects. Network with other procurement professionals and embark on continuous improvement.
Demonstrate passion for the subject, become expert, ‘woo’ your stakeholders with your engagement in what is important to them, show your commercial savvy, always make it fun and never stress over any matter.
1- Listening, it is a good start. 2- Learning from your and other mistakes. 3- Be accountable. 4 - Consider the TCO in your comparison prices charts. 5- Last but not least, enjoy what you are doing.
A person in procurement has primarily a task of creating value for his/her internal customers (internal stake holders).
The first and foremost tip I will give is to meet up almost all the internal stakeholders, understand their behavior pattern and their expectation on how procurement can create value for them in a Face 2 Face meeting. Collect their pain points they face with the procurement function.
Also go to them only after analysis of their procurement spend and their feedback if any.
My advice is to treat the procurement function like the reputational and financial immune system of the company and to be a partner to your stakeholders (internal and external).
By immune system, I mean that procurement is there to protect a company from itself, from making bad decisions and agreements that could put the reputation and financial stability of the company at risk. In procurement, you will need to be that warning bell tolling for your stakeholders to listen.
By partnering, I mean that procurement is a service and support function, not a profit center. Procurement only exists to help other parts of the business do their job better. Be a partner to those you support and remember that one of your main functions is to make their lives better and their jobs easier.
I see you already have some key elements identified. So........always keep the "What would you do if it was your money?" point of view. Always look at the bigger picture, as it is easy to fall foul of the "micro trap" and miss great opportunities to save money. A fresh set of eyes will reveal approaches that deliver great vfm, so don't be afraid of voicing them when faced with a room full of people with years of procurement experience (who often get stuck in a rut and need a bit of a shake up). PCR2015 offers opportunities for compliant but flexible procurement solutions - don't be afraid to explore them.
I would could mention 2, first would be to have a clear understanding of the stakeholder's needs. Second, to have the engagement from the stakeholder. At the end, the stakeholder is our client.