Boost ROI When Training Your Purchasing Team

Key Highlights 

  • Training is an investment, follow best practices to optimizing ROI on training. 
  • Clear expectations and communication are key to successful training. 
  • Integrating training into performance objectives ensures accountability and evaluation. 
  • Active engagement and practical application of skills lead to better results. 
  • Post-training actions, such as assigning projects and facilitating knowledge sharing, further enhance ROI. 
Illustrated team analyzes rising trend graph on computer in a well-lit office setting.

Introduction 

Training your purchasing team is an important investment and should be treated as such. The goal for purchasing skills training is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your purchasing operations, leading to better outcomes and higher returns on investment. Unfortunately, putting your team through training does not stand alone to achieve these results. To maximize the impact from training, procurement leaders need to take important actions before, during and after the training program. In this blog, we will explore how to optimize ROI when training your purchasing team by establishing clear expectations, integrating training into performance objectives, engaging actively during the training process, and sustaining long-term benefits. By following these best practices and strategies, you can ensure that your training efforts yield maximum results and contribute to the overall success of your procurement team. 

Gain valuable by watching our exclusive webinar Best Practices for Training Your Purchasing Team.  Hear advice from purchasing leaders from three global companies for getting the most out of your investment in training. 

Establishing Clear Expectations Prior to Training 

Before embarking on any training program for your purchasing team, it is essential to establish clear expectations. Clear expectations create a sense of clarity and direction for what team members are expected to do and get out of the training.   

One-on-One Meetings to Set Goals 

One-on-one meetings with each member of your purchasing team enable you to set goals and establish clear expectations for their training. Use these meetings to establish ground rules and a framework for accountability and progress tracking. One-on-one meetings also promote open communication and feedback, fostering a supportive environment for growth and development. 

Team Meetings to Communicate Roles and Expectations  

In addition to conducting one-on-one meetings, team meetings serve as an opportunity to communicate roles and expectations for the training program. Team meetings provide a platform for discussing the overall goals and objectives of the training, as well as outlining the expectations for team members attending the training. Address any concerns or questions during these meetings and actively encourage open communication.  

Announcement Emails Bring Clarity 

Announcement emails play a crucial role in offering clarity and strengthening the expectations for training participants. They act as an official means of communication to distribute vital details, including the training’s foundation, its connection to the procurement teams’ responsibilities, and the overarching objectives. Moreover, these emails allow for addressing any inquiries or issues that might come up, thus ensuring that everyone comprehends the program and its role in enhancing skills and abilities of the procurement team. 

Build Expectations into Evaluation Metrics 

Integrate expected training participation and achievements into the performance objectives of participants. This ensures that the training is aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the organization. Integrating learning objectives into performance objectives also promotes accountability and provides a clear framework for evaluating the success of the training program in achieving its intended outcomes. 

Engaging Actively During the Training Process 

Active engagement by procurement leadership during the training process will further enhance ROI. It is not enough to send team members to the training; they must be prompted to turn learnings into on-the-job action 

Encourage Key Take-aways and Practical Application 

Consider taking the following actions between training sessions to ensure that team members get the most out of the training program and begin applying the tools and concepts learned: 

  • During one-on-one conversations with participants, ask how they can apply what they are learning to their job 
  • During team meetings, ask participants to discuss key take-aways with the group 
  • Use email or slack to ask the same questions in an informal, encouraging manner 

Request Action Plans  

As the training progresses, request participants develop action plans to put into writing how they will apply the training to their jobs. Action plans outline how team members will apply the concepts and skills learned during training in their day-to-day procurement activities. These plans provide a roadmap for continuous improvement and ensure that the training has a practical and tangible impact on their performance. Additionally, providing constructive feedback is essential for skill development and growth. Offer specific and actionable feedback to help team members refine their plans. This feedback should be focused on areas of improvement and delivered in a supportive and constructive manner. 

Set Goals and Metrics for Skill Application 

Set goals and metrics for the team to apply their newly learned skills. This involves taking a strategic approach to goal setting and aligning goals with the overall objectives of the organization. By setting specific and measurable goals, you can track the progress and effectiveness of the applied skills. By setting goals and metrics, you can ensure that the skills learned during training are continuously applied and optimized, leading to better procurement outcomes and increased ROI. 

Lead by Example through Active Participation 

Leading by example is essential for sustaining the application of learned skills. As a leader in the procurement team, it is important to actively participate in the training process and demonstrate the skills and behaviors you expect from your team members. This includes making it a priority to attend all training sessions, completing assignments, and actively engaging in discussions. Your active participation reinforces the importance of the training program and signals to your team members that their professional growth and development are valued. 

Maximizing Post-Training ROI 

Ensure that the skills and knowledge gained during training are effectively utilized as an ongoing effort. This involves implementing strategies to apply these skills in real-world scenarios, monitor the impact, and continuously refine and improve the procurement processes. By leveraging the skills and knowledge gained through training, you can optimize profit margins, drive better supplier negotiations, and achieve higher returns on investment.  

Assign Projects to Apply New Skills 

Giving team members the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge gained during training in real-world scenarios, to reinforce the learning and ensure that the training has a practical impact. When assigning projects, take a strategic approach and align them with the overall objectives of the organization. This allows team members to contribute to the strategic goals of the organization while practicing and refining their newly acquired skills. Assigning projects also provides a platform for evaluation and feedback, allowing team members to continuously improve their skills and contribute to the overall success of the procurement team. 

Facilitate Knowledge Sharing in Team Meetings 

Team meetings provide a platform for training participants to share their experiences, insights, and best practices with each other. This fosters a collaborative learning environment where team members can learn from each other’s successes and challenges. By encouraging knowledge sharing, you can ensure that the skills and knowledge gained during training are disseminated throughout the team, maximizing the overall impact.  

Promote Mentorship Among Team Members 

Pair experienced team members with those who are newer or less experienced, to create opportunities for advanced knowledge transfer and skill development. Mentors can provide guidance, support, and insights based on their own experiences, helping mentees apply the skills learned during training in real-world scenarios. Mentorship also fosters leadership development and builds rapport within the team, creating a supportive and collaborative culture. By promoting mentorship, you ensure that the skills and knowledge gained during training are continuously reinforced and optimized. 

Document Achievements  

Documenting achievements such as cost savings, improved negotiation outcomes, or process improvements to begin quantifying the impact of the training program and demonstrate the ROI to stakeholders. This can be done through progress reports, case studies, or data analysis. Additionally, apply learnings by continuously refining and improving the procurement processes based on the insights gained through training. This involves analyzing the data, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing changes to optimize the procurement outcomes. By documenting achievements and applying learnings, you ensure that the training efforts have a lasting and measurable impact on the procurement team and contribute to the overall success of the organization. 

Implement Post-Training Actions Personally 

To sustain the long-term benefits of training, it is important for leaders and managers to personally implement the post-training actions and role model the desired behaviors. By taking the lead and demonstrating the application of the skills learned during training, leaders create a culture of continuous improvement and encourage others to do the same. This personal implementation also signals to internal stakeholders the importance of the training program and its impact on the overall success of the organization.  

Highlight Success Stories to Inspire the Team 

Share stories of individuals who have successfully applied the skills learned during training to achieve significant results to create a sense of inspiration and motivation within the team. These success stories provide a platform for recognition and celebration, reinforcing the value of training and encouraging others to strive for similar achievements.  

Assign Subject Matter Expert Roles to Encourage Leadership 

Identify individuals who have demonstrated expertise in specific skills learned from the training to leverage their knowledge and skills to mentor and guide others. This not only encourages leadership development but also ensures that the skills and knowledge gained during training are shared and applied across the team. Assigning subject matter expert roles also strategically positions team members as go-to resources for specific procurement processes or categories, enhancing their professional growth and contributing to the overall success of the team. 

Conclusion 

You can use the 15 points outlined in this article as a checklist of action to take as a procurement leader putting their team through training: 

Prior to launching training: 

  • One-on-one meetings to set goals 
  • Team meetings to communicate roles and expectations  
  • Announcement emails bring clarity 
  • Build expectations into evaluation metrics 

During the training process: 

  • Encourage key take-aways and practical application 
  • Request action plans  
  • Set goals and metrics for skill application 
  • Lead by example through active participation 

After the training is completed: 

  • Assign Projects to Apply New Skills 
  • Facilitate Knowledge Sharing in Team Meetings 
  • Promote Mentorship Among Team Members 
  • Document Achievements  
  • Implement Post-Training Actions Personally 
  • Highlight Success Stories to Inspire the Team 
  • Assign Subject Matter Expert Roles to Encourage Leadership 

APD offers a number of online purchasing skills training courses for Buyers, Commodity Managers, Supply Chain professionals, and Sourcing leaders. Contact Denise Mattern at dmattern@apurchasingd.com if you want to learn more about our highly regarded procurement training. As a Global Commodity Manager put it after attending one of our programs:  

"Every training session and assignment kept my attention and interest. The material was very engaging, and I liked the organized and analytical approach to commodity management. I got a lot out of the program and highly recommend the course.” 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Are the Best Practices for Pre-Training Preparation? 

Best practices for pre-training preparation include conducting a thorough skills assessment of the team, identifying specific training needs, engaging stakeholders, and aligning the training objectives with the overall procurement strategy. This ensures that the training is tailored to the specific needs of the organization and maximizes the ROI. 

How to Ensure the Application of Learned Skills Post-Training? 

To ensure the application of learned skills post-training, organizations can provide ongoing support and follow-up, encourage practical application through real-world scenarios, and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the procurement team. This ensures that the skills are effectively applied and contribute to the overall success of the organization. 

Can Training Participation Be Tied to Performance Objectives? 

Yes, training participation can be tied to performance objectives by aligning the training outcomes with the key performance indicators of the procurement team. By setting performance objectives that are linked to the training outcomes, organizations can measure the impact of the training program and ensure that it contributes to the overall performance of the team and the organization. 

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