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Strategic Roles in Procurement Haven’t Changed Much

A recent post on Public Spend Forum asked the following question:

What are the key 4-6 roles (e.g. Buyer, Commodity Manager, etc …) common to all public procurement organizations that help you align the “right skills” with the “right roles”, to achieve procurement and mission outcomes?  By way of context, everyone on your team need not be experts in everything and so we define roles that emphasize “groups of skills” that team members in their respective roles need to have.

Larry Giunipero from Florida State and I completed a study for CAPS back in 2004 ((giunipero2004) that identified several of these roles, and the skills and knowledge required at each level.  In general, most of these also apply to public procurement, although with the digital age there are also Centers of Excellence for Analytics starting to form that require specialized statistical and analysis skills.  Some of the major insights include the following:

  • A shift to more strategic relationships
  • Growth of the internet and e-tools
  • Reduction in purchasing staff
  • A focus on strategic goals, not just cost
  • The evolution to supply chain as a competitive business strategy
  • A movement from tactical procurement to strategic sourcing

All in all, not much has changed in the past 15 years!  We appear to be very much still on this journey, although there are certainly a lot of new buzzwords around such as “cognitive”, “AI”, and “Internet of Things”.   But the fundamentals of solid procurement remain the same.