PART 4: Procurement In The Future: Up-skill To Close The Skill Gap


Author: Ben Shute FCIPS, CEO, Comprara

The final part of a 4-part series which has run through December on the challenges facing procurement. Read part one, which looked at how automation is changing roles, here. Part two: ‘From Procurement To Three-Pronged Management’ here. Part three: ‘The Triple Bottom Line: Understanding The Sustainability Agenda’ here.

Need to up-skill to close the skill gap

Procurement is changing. It is now a multifaceted proposition that demands that professionals focus not only on the traditional procurement activity of cost management, but that they take a broader, total-value outlook.

With the ability to relegate many administrative processes to robots, organisations now demand that their procurement officers undertake more value-enhancement activities, such as actively managing the supply chain, managing risks better and helping with brand building.

However, the majority of current procurement professionals do not have the skills to navigate the bold new world of procurement. The skill gap is an ongoing challenge for procurement leaders, but the changes that are assailing the procurement sector can help to bridge this gap.

We mentioned that, at the most basic level, the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can free up time. We propose that up-skilling is a very good way to spend time gained through automation. Up-skilling can take the form of learning new technical skills, such as market analysis and strategy development for risk mitigation. But up-skilling should also include soft-skills like learning how to influence during negotiation and sales techniques to help with brand management.

The overall focus should always be to consider which of your current skills and activities are processing and repetitive analysis that a robotic process can take over, without feeling the loss of the human factor.

The next step is to plot a course away from such automatable skills into skills that would be worse or impossible without a human present.

Both individuals and organisations must identify the skill gap that not only exists today, but the gap that will open in the near future. Only once the skill gap is identified can both individuals and organisations take steps towards closing it.

The purchasing officers of today will need to become the supply chain managers who are proactive about risks and who make an active contribution towards the brand of the organisation tomorrow.

To do so, individuals and organisations not only have to build capability in technical fields, but also continue to develop soft skills. Procurement officers must broaden their horizons beyond the cost to include sustainability and take a total value view.

Because to return to the question with which we began: No, humans are not obsolete – but an individual can become obsolete if they allow their skills to stagnate.


About the author
Ben Shute FCIPS, is a thought leader and CEO of Comprara, a consulting business that has led the market in the development of capability and capacity diagnostic applications.

  • Have you heard about PASA CPO Summit in March? ‘Future Proofing You’ will be held on 13 & 14th March 2018 in Sydney. 


Comprara offers capability & capacity solutions for buyers:

Capability: – Capability and Departmental Analysis – Capability Development

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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