Who’s a new procurement professional? Top 4 competencies and skills CPOs want most

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A new is coming in the procurement area and all business leaders and CPOs know it pretty well.

Who is CPO looking for?

87 is  the magic number. Why? 87% of CPOs surveyed in The Deloitte Global CPO Survey 2017 agree that the talent is the single greatest factor in driving procurement performance. The landscape of procurement talent is changing constantly and procurement leaders need a new type of employees. It was believed that someone who excels at sourcing and cost-cutting was a perfect candidate for a procurement team. Not any longer!  Now CPOs are looking for rather strategic mindset and staff who connects what the business is aiming to accomplish and how procurement can help.

The reason why procurement leaders are looking for a new type of attitude is that  procurement staff who take a strategic, business-centric view are more likely to build strong relationships, come up with more creative solutions and  pave the route for procurement’s involvement in the most strategic and lucrative projects. That’s why CPOs are both searching for new competencies and skills while interviewing candidates and investing in trainings not related strictly to the procurement area, but rather to a broad strategic and business path. The numbers below show how training remains the primary strategy for talent development and what was planned as the main focus in 2017.

Source: The Deloitte Global CPO Survey 2017

Update: What have changed in 2019? In the newest Deloitte’s research, it turned out that CPOs still have difficulty finding and retaining talent in their team. The key recommendation of experts for CPO is not only about emplyee development through training, but also about mastering the complexity of agile work methodology models.

According to the CPO, the necessary areas of merchant development in 2020 are: sourcing and category management, as well as negotiations. It is worth noting that the CPO will pay attention to the improvement of soft skills regarding cooperation with suppliers and business partnership.

Source: The Deloitte Global CPO Survey 2019

Who is the perfect candidate?

And here is the critical question: What competencies will be (or already are) wanted by CPOs? Basing on statistics, our own experience and research, we have listed 4 competencies and skills a procurement professional need to have. Thus who’s a perfect procurement professional?


Right, this is something what has been required since always. Although analyzing data in Excel sheets wouldn’t be enough anymore. What is really important is the ability to visualize, articulate, and solve problems and concepts and most importantly make decisions that make sense based on all available information. And primarily they make sense for the business.

Project manager

Actually this skill is desired in almost every business field. Procurement professionals initiate, plan, execute and monitor the results. It requires a high level of self-organization and multitasking.


It also includes negotiations as all is about communication and building relationships. And we don’t mean only relations with suppliers (although they are essential in a communication chain), but most importantly with business leaders. A procurement professional needs to understand what are the business goals and clearly explain to the managers the procurement perspective. Not an easy task.


It doesn’t mean that procurement professionals need to be fluent in all available software systems (as no one is). But they need to have a strong drive to use at least one. Having an aptitude for technology is important because it shows you can do anything and you are not afraid of changes. So, when your company decides to deploy an IT solution, they can rely on you to pick it up quickly and use it effectively. Or you can even propose to your business leaders any kind of IT solution which will just support your work and make it more effective.


Buyer 4.0 – what future holds?

The main question is: what competences will be the most important for Buyers in the near future? And what will be the key for CPO to built a competitive advantage in the recruitment process of future Buyers? The answer is visible at job offers that include expectations, such as:

  • hard skills: high education, foreign languages, knowledge of the procurement process and categories, experience, strategy implementation, supplier management and analytical thinking
  • soft skills: communication, independence, initiative, time management, teamwork, problem solving, relationship building and goal orientation

and of course, skills that have been at the forefront of offers: negotiation, purchasing category management and purchasing process handling. Moreover, Buyer 4.0 profile has the following competences:

Building relationships within the organization

Mainly with Stakeholders (so-called Internal Clients, people for whom you generate added value) – employees of logistics and production departments, quality or application engineers.

Change implementation

Effective management and enforcement of the progress of complex projects with the assigned purchasing category or in the wider context of the entire supply chain.

Emotional intelligence

Responding to stressful, unethical and conflict management situations in which you act as a participant or external observer.

Strategy building

Creative thinking and business awareness (initiating and project implementation of activities in accordance with the direction of enterprise development and the current market situation).

Risk management

Not only during periods of economic recession, but in the form of a standard (routine) course of proceedings when creating new processes, optimizing flows and managing complex projects.

Orientation to measurable results

Introducing innovative solutions based on current state-of-the-art data and measurable goals of the target state in terms of value.


Certainly, we should list more skills and competencies which would be much appreciated in procurement teams, such as flexibility, result focused, financial acumen etc. But the ones we have mentioned change the picture of procurement professionals, who now play more business and strategic role rather than operational role.

Changing the expectations contained in the job offer will take a moment. Acquiring competences that will soon become the main pillars of a prosperous Procurement Department may take many years! Take care of your skills from today!

As it was said, a new is coming. Hold tight and become a great procurement professional with NextBuy.

If you want to check how NextBuy can support you, request NextBuy demo with one of our procurement experts.