What the procurement professional expects from their learning

What do modern procurement professionals want from training?

Procurement professionals want to learn and to develop themselves. It is something they look for when searching for new roles. It is also critical for attracting people into the function and keeping them there.

Organizations must offer growth opportunities for Procurement people that appeal to their interests as well as meeting organizational requirements.

At ADR, we work with organizations to design blended learning programs that address a range of needs. Many use competency assessments to determine the key skills gaps. However, some still say that the learning has not met their needs fully.

Competency assessment is best used as part of a wider review of needs, using this stepped approach:

1. Understand Business Needs that define your function’s goals

Business Needs will come from various sources

  • Organizational strategy and vision
  • Stakeholder and supplier feedback
  • Organizational culture and team working
  • Procurement department current and future strategy and targets
  • Succession plans and future organizational structure
  • Shareholder expectations

These needs help to define the priorities of the team and this needs to translate into daily practices and behaviors through good training.

2. Set Learning Objectives

Ultimately, Procurement will need to have a clear understanding of how they bring value to the organization and how its people underpin that. This will then drive the learning objectives. Like all good key performance indicators, they should be a few SMART metrics that are critical to success. It does not matter if they are not finance-related. Many Procurement teams define their impact in other ways like customer satisfaction, or circular economy metrics. The objectives should do the following:

  • Link to organizational goals
  • Clarify department target and individual contribution
  • Have resources and pathways available so everyone knows how they are going to be able to contribute

3. Identify Skills Gaps

Self-assessment accompanied by line-manager discussion is a valuable method to understand the gap from the current state to the desired state. It is much more helpful to perform skills assessment against the future organizational model than against current role descriptions. An aspirational target sets the right tone – future state, not current state.

4. Create Learning Interventions

Learning interventions are training activities. The 70:20:10 learning model shows that 70% of learning should be on the job, 20% through informal learning and 10% through formal learning. Formal learning includes video, podcast, classroom, webinar and eLearning courses and discussions.

Procurement people often tell us that they feel their L&D offering is not suited to their needs – that training is “one size fits all”. At ADR, we find that the most common requests from procurement professionals are:

  • They want to find out how future trends and technologies are going to help them.
  • They want access to modern tools and resources, and support to become expert in them.
  • They want choice about when, how and what to learn. This means a blended program of instructor-led classroom, webinar courses plus self-directed eLearning and micro learning on a range of topics, frequently updated.
  • They want on the job and social learning efforts like peer learning, mentoring and experience sharing (the 20%) to be facilitated, recognised and rewarded in the same way as their formal training (the 10%).

5. Measure Learning effectiveness

L&D efforts must be measured against the stated learning objectives rather than a generic goal such as “save more money”. If incremental cost improvement from application of new techniques is expected, then the individual must be responsible for tracking and demonstrating the technique and its direct impact.

This requires a tool that records outputs AND outcomes not just inputs. This can be a challenge of the traditional learning management system.

When approached with a 70:20:10 mindset, procurement learning and development is not an “edge of desk” activity, it is the day job. It represents a cultural belief that doing things in the same way will not get better results. Continuous learning application is the most reliable route to improvement.