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Why contracting in procurement can now be a strong career choice

Contracting

Steve Jamieson, Director & Managing Consultant at Tier 1 Procurement, explains why contracting is now a viable career option, what the advantages are and how to shape a professional contracting journey.

Introduction:

In the realm of procurement, a new paradigm is emerging – contracting as a career. Contrary to the conventional procurement roles within organisations, contracting in procurement offers professionals a unique and flexible path to navigate the complexities of the procurement landscape.

The Essence of Contracting in Procurement:

Contracting in procurement involves engaging professionals on a temporary or project-specific basis to fulfil operational or strategic needs. This approach allows organisations to access specialised skills and expertise for distinct projects while offering procurement professionals the freedom to choose projects that align with their strengths and interests.

Advantages of Contracting in Procurement:

Specialised Expertise: Organisations often require specific expertise for procurement projects. Contracting allows professionals to leverage their specialised skills for short-term assignments, providing a solution for organisations with niche requirements.

Project Variety: Contracting in procurement provides professionals with the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects. From supplier negotiations to strategic sourcing initiatives, each project offers a unique set of challenges and learning opportunities.

Flexibility in Schedule: Procurement professionals engaged in contracting enjoy the flexibility to define their work schedules. This autonomy enables them to balance work and personal commitments more effectively.

Networking Opportunities: Engaging in multiple contracts exposes procurement contractors to a broader network of industry professionals, suppliers and stakeholders. This expanded network can be invaluable for future career opportunities and collaborations.

Enhanced Market Value: The varied experiences gained through contracting in procurement enhances a professional’s market value. Exposure to different industries, procurement processes and supplier interactions contributes to a well-rounded skill set.

Self Employed: Many contractors choose to set up an ABN and contract through their own Ltd company. There may be advantages here from a perspective of writing off some additional expenses or building a website to engage more formally those services and in some cases perhaps grow the business.

Ease of Entry: Some employers nowadays have internal challenges and process considerations for permanent recruitment. Acquiring contractors can be faster, and so contracting opens you up to opportunities to enter top-tier businesses quickly and with less competition compared with a permanent hiring process pathway. 

Building a Successful Contracting Career in Procurement:

Professional Certifications: Obtaining relevant certifications in procurement and supply chain management enhances a contractor’s credibility and marketability.

Strategic Networking: Building a strong professional network within the procurement industry is essential. Attending industry conferences, joining online procurement communities and participating in networking events facilitates valuable connections. Utilising LinkedIn also enhances networks within target markets.

Embracing Technology: Procurement professionals should stay abreast of technological advancements in procurement software and tools to remain efficient and competitive in the contracting landscape.

Commitment: Seeing through a project or contract duration can be critical. In a world where opportunity may knock on the door regularly, it is important to complete each assignment and not jump to a new project, just because it brings a higher remuneration. 

Managing Finance: Procurement projects can vary in duration. Contractors need to plan for periods between projects and manage their finances accordingly.

Navigating Organisational Cultures: Moving from one organisation to another requires the ability to adapt quickly to different corporate cultures and procurement practices.

Continuous Learning: Staying updated with industry trends, emerging technologies and evolving procurement methodologies is crucial for contractors to remain competitive.

Collecting Recommendations: LinkedIn offers the function of written recommendations. These are a useful tool to utilise when developing new client relationships.

Contracting vs. Consulting

There is often a fine line between what is a contract role and what is a consulting role. Typically, a consultant will be brought in to address specific challenges, provide advice and solutions to CPOs and their teams. These consultants would typically have spent time working with consulting firms or across multiple industries in line roles. 

Consultants that have exposure to both the industry and have worked for consulting firms are well positioned as they bring “real world experience” with the consulting nous to help unlock value for their clients and teams. 

Consulting engagements will be very focused, targeting specific problems with a relatively clear scope/expectations and the stakes can be very high. Some CPOs bring in ex-consultants onto their team to bridge the gap between industry and consulting capabilities, for a potentially lower cost point to that of a large firm. 

A contractor is essentially doing a full time or project role on a temporary basis. They often bring a lower cost point than consultants and bring significant industry experience which they can draw from across multiple sectors. 

Conclusion:

Contracting in procurement isn’t just a career choice, it’s a strategic approach to shaping one’s professional journey. The flexibility, diversity of experiences and networking opportunities make contracting in procurement an exciting and dynamic path for those looking to thrive in the ever-evolving world of supply chain and procurement. 

As organisations increasingly recognise the value of specialised expertise, the role of contracting/consulting in procurement is set to play an even more integral part in shaping the future of the profession.

*Some content sourced with thanks from Ashok Narayanan Menon. Experienced Procurement Consultant with Industry and Consulting experience.

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