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Procurement Talent Trends for 2020

Sept. 8, 2020
Four important HR trends are playing out in procurement departments across the country right now.

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State-mandated lockdowns, stock market volatility (and recovery), civil unrest and the overall  negative impacts of the global pandemic are all impacting the way companies do business in 2020.

Through all of this uncertainty, Nick Lazzara of MRA Global Sourcing has been tracking the key trends taking place on the procurement talent front. In Spend Matters’ “Procurement talent trends during COVID-19, Part Two, he discusses these trends and hints at what’s to come for procurement employment for the remainder of the year.

Here are Lazzara’s top observations and their impacts on the modern procurement department: 

  • More companies are hiring procurement talent. Unemployment remains high. Still, it is trending in the right direction, having retreated from as high as 14.7% in April back down to 10.2% in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “While we expect more data to arise in the coming months, the eye test and conversations with dozens of chief procurement officers (CPOs) suggest that the procurement hiring boom experienced before the pandemic is slowly but surely returning to form,” he writes, noting that an influx of procurement openings posted in July and August on Procurement Spark are further evidence to this point.
  • Companies see procurement as a valuable investment. We’re not yet at or near pre-COVID-19 levels, with millions in impacted industries still displaced from their jobs. However, as companies begin to receive the greenlight from the CFO to hire again, Lazzara says supply chain (and particularly strategic sourcing) jobs are high in the pecking order. “This makes sense,” he writes, “as the C-suite can use talented procurement professionals as they move from disaster response to setting up a sustainable risk-ready sourcing organization and keep a close eye on expenditures.”
  • Remote work is changing everything. Calling the “forced rise of remote working among white-collar workers” one of the most exciting aspects to monitor during the pandemic, Lazzara says employer sentiment has been generally positive as a surprisingly large number of employees have been as productive, if not more, than before COVID-19.Replacing travel and onsite interaction with video collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom seemed a risky proposition at first,” he writes. “Instead, it has provided a seamless transition to virtual supplier reviews, stakeholder meetings, and internal strategy sessions with global team members — with a more alert, non-jet-lagged team to boot.” As this relates to procurement talent, Lazzara says that a flexible structure can create a win-win model. “Employers can leverage a larger candidate pool to truly seek out the best person for the position, which is great for nabbing highly specialized, commodity subject matter experts who otherwise wouldn't be able to relocate to company headquarters,” he adds.
  • Supplier diversity programs rule. The national civil unrest has put a new focus on racial equity on a national scale, with the business world also activating some much-needed reform. “As a part of this self-reflection, companies are not just assessing their diversity but also extending it to their suppliers,” Lazzara writes. “Creating opportunities and combating racial injustice is a noble cause and the right thing to do. Your procurement group and company can reap many rewards from having a robust supplier diversity program.”

By widening their potential pools of partners, Lazzara says companies can also help promote competition, improve quality and bring costs down. They can also strengthen supply chains that may have been weakened by the pandemic and/or economic downturn.

“Additional sourcing options create a more agile supply chain — a criticality in times like these,” he writes. “Furthermore, it helps with hiring more than half of applicants surveyed, and the article states those who want to work for companies with a supplier diversity program in place. This is an area where we anticipate increased hiring as more companies place well-deserved attention on it.”

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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.