Today IT procurement managers need to have more in-depth knowledge about the markets they serve, the latest technology trends as well as the services they support, than they have ever needed before.
They also need to be people who can demonstrate a deeper technical and operational understanding of Information Technology and their stakeholders’ business needs. It’s not only about price and commercials and this broader view will significantly support how they can engage stakeholders more effectively, and bring fresh or updated opportunities and solutions.
It’s a wide spectrum of skills, but if they have those skills and knowledge they will be better placed to land their desired role and perform when they are in that role.
There are a few simple steps IT procurement managers can take to acquire these skills.
Develop a knowledge base
An increased depth of knowledge and skills should be a win-win, but often people find they don’t have the time to develop that extra level of understanding. If you do invest the time and effort it will reward you, and you will get a lot of job satisfaction out of it. I’ve found many new opportunities either in cost reduction, service improvement or stakeholder engagement, simply because I had read a research paper or gone to a conference or spoken to a supplier.
Work with interims
CPOs may consider supplementing their team with knowledgeable and experienced interim procurement managers, to bring in best practises or marketing intelligence, and boost skills and expertise. Those people can share their knowledge of what is happening in the wider marketplace and should be utilised as a source of intelligence.
They can also help develop skills within you that will help you manage your category.
Take a global perspective
There are a lot of IT procurement leaders operating in global companies, and it’s a huge bonus if you have that knowledge and awareness of working globally. It is normal now to have data centres that follow the sun: operating for eight hours in Asia, then eight hours in Europe, then America. Selecting suppliers who are global is key and it’s going to be increasingly important as export opportunities presented from a lower pound will see companies buying from emerging markets in South America and the Far East. It will be essential for IT procurement to get closer to these global opportunities.
Equally, experience of leading multi-national teams across numerous geographies is invaluable.