Aspirations to Become Advisors Tops Procurement Priorities

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Procurement professionals in a meeting.

There’s something new on procurement’s radar. Yes, more budget would be nice, and so would an endless supply of talent, but those are not new to the list. According to the "The CPO Agenda," Hackett Group’s annual study of key procurement issues, becoming a trusted advisor now tops the list of procurement’s priorities.

Although this is the first time this issue has Trusted advisors understand the business and providing quality information.appeared in the report, let alone at the top of the list, it’s a theme that’s been bubbling up in the trade media for a while now. And, according to research by Susan Avery, the level of education, certification and budgetary responsibility of procurement professionals has been rising steadily over the past decade, so it’s not surprising that aspirations are rising as well.

Specifically, procurement people want to be actively sought out by senior executives when they need market intelligence and input on strategic decisions, writes John Hall in his interview with Hackett’s Chris Sawchuk on The only problem, Sawchuk tells Hall, is that procurement isn’t quite ready to fill those shoes.

How could they get ready? There’s no job description for trusted advisor; it’s a status that’s won by having a firm grasp of information (and that increasingly means big data) and a deep understanding of the business. But, if there were one, here’s what Hackett says it would look like:

  • Be a change agent and facilitator and who has a sincere interest in helping stakeholders achieve their business objectives;
  • Has an executive presence at the table during planning and budgeting;
  • Enables business execution through forward-looking market insights and market intelligence addressing business concerns;
  • Understands each stakeholder’s business and organization and tailors procurement’s message/approach accordingly; and
  • Has the right set of skills, such as program management, communication and business acumen.

There’s a difference, Sawchuk says, between being trusted and a trusted advisor, and you have to do some honest self-assessment to determine exactly where you fall in the spectrum. If business leaders are already seeking you out for advice, information and resources, you’re probably already on your way to achieving trusted advisor status.

If not, you may need to look proactively for areas where you can add value, gather some information, formulate some ideas, sharpen your relationship building skills and start reaching out to show people what you can do. Building trust takes time, so patience and preparation are the keys.