Procurement Specialists: Master Puzzlers

April 24, 2018
Procurement Specialists: Master Puzzlers

Students often ask what sort of jobs there are in Operations and Supply Chain. Procurement (also called purchasing) is a great starting point.

The procurement function requires skills beyond price negotiation and issuing purchase orders. Procurement specialists add value to a company when they acquire skills that are proactive and encompass value-added activities.  That includes a major emphasis on “puzzle solving”, bringing together the full procurement picture, including spend analysis, market research, supplier risk assessment, internal customer satisfaction, and stakeholder engagement.

This post is based on the Supply Chain Digest article, Supply Chain News: What are the Next Generation Procurement Skills?, by the SCDigest Editorial Staff, April 2, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov.

Discussion Questions:

1. Are supplier risk assessments the same for all SKUs?

Guidance: Students should review ABC inventory analysis.  Students should debate the contents of a supplier risk assessment for “A” items vs. “C” items.  It should be clear that the level of risk assessment depends on how critical the inventory item is to the company.

2. How would you develop some of the skills required to become a proactive procurement specialist while a college student?

Guidance: Students should review sourcing.  One suggestion is to develop a table listing the skills noted in the article in one column, and then in a second column, describe three ways each skill could be developed.  At the end of this exercise, ask students how many of these skills are “soft” versus “hard”.  Students can then debate which skills (hard vs. soft) are more difficult to develop.

The goal is to recognize that all skill sets are equally important in business, not just in the procurement field.  Students should understand that developing their total skills, whether hard or soft, is important in their college years.


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