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CPOs are Worried About Future Workforce Competency

Dec. 13, 2023
Just 14% of CPOs have the talent they need today to meet future requirements of procurement roles.

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Having the skills, knowledge and behaviors needed to thrive in certain job roles—aka, “workforce competency—is important in today’s rapidly-evolving work world. Technological advancements, globalization, automation and evolving demographics have all changed the way we work. And they’re making future workforce competency an increasingly important focus for a wide range of companies. 

According to a new Gartner, Inc. survey, future workforce competency is of particular concern for chief procurement officers (CPOs) right now. In fact, just 14% of CPOs feel like they have “adequate talent” in place to meet the future needs of the procurement function. This finding comes as business acumen and technology/data competencies have rapidly grown in importance over more traditional procurement skills.

“Procurement leaders are generally confident in the current state of their talent and the ability to meet their near-term objectives,” said Fareen Mehrzai, a Gartner senior director analyst, in a press release. “However, our data shows that chief procurement officers (CPOs) are worried about the future and having sufficient talent to meet transformative goals based around technology, as well as the ability to serve as a strategic advisor to the business.”

Survey Says…

For the report, Gartner surveyed 111 procurement leaders. The findings revealed a bifurcation between procurement leaders’ assessments of current and future talent needs in the function. For example, 46% of respondents are confident in their current talent needs, but only 14% agree they have adequate talent to meet future requirements. 

Gartner says the number of respondents who strongly disagreed with the statement that they have adequate talent tripled from current levels when asked about their future requirements. Some of this uncertainty among respondents is being driven by a “shift in the key competencies CPOs need to help drive objectives associated with procurement transformation,” Gartner says. 

For example, nearly 70% of respondents said business acumen had gained importance in the last 12 months, while 68% said technology and data skills had increased in importance. Only 26% said “traditional procurement competencies” had gained importance in the same period.

“Procurement leaders are aware that the competencies required to drive transformation are different from traditional procurement skills, and that there are significant gaps between their current and future needs for the most important competencies,” said Mehrzai. “Ninety-six percent of respondents reported at least a small gap in their needs for technology and data skills, while 86% reported the same when it came to business acumen.”

More Work to Do

Gartner’s Top 10 Priorities for Sourcing & Procurement Leaders survey also suggests that more work needs to be done in refining competency planning strategies to meet future talent needs in the procurement function. While more than 65% of respondents reported that their organizations have dedicated strategies to target the most critical competencies, for example, just 31% believe that their current competency models are relevant to their staff’s work.

“In evaluating current competency levels, we see procurement leaders relying most on peer and stakeholder feedback, while less than half report engaging in competency-driven interviews to directly evaluate their staff’s skills,” said Mehrzai. “Considering the significant gaps in the most critical future competencies, CPOs need to consider expanding their options in how they train and evaluate their staff.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.