Discussion Highlights: Developing the Purchasing Team

1.5.2023 Executive Roundtable

The roundtable theme was how companies are planning to elevate the skill sets of their purchasing teams in 2023. Highlights of the roundtable discussion are summarized below:

  • Director of Indirect Sourcing and Major Programs at a for truck manufacturer who oversees development for 200 supply chain professionals shared that they focus on three mechanisms for skills development:
    1. A 3-year leadership development program for young talent (18 month assignments)
    2. Ongoing Purchasing 101 training
    3. Attending conferences
  • Procurement Director at a Consumer Products manufacturer shared their direct materials procurement team has had very little time for training and development in the past year. Currently, they are leveraging the roll out of new systems to reinforce best sourcing practices (e.g. share lessons learned during the development of common questions to include in RFQ templates). They identified contracts – when to involve legal, paying attention to expiring contracts, etc. – is an area of needed skill development for their team.
  • Director of Indirect Purchasing for a surgical robot manufacturer shared that they have dedicated contract managers on their team to support buyers. They identified demand planning for indirect as an area of needed skill development for their team.
  • Director of Global Supply Chain Excellence for a catheter manufacturer shared that their organization was not able to provide training for the purchasing organization in the past year. They are focusing on some of the buyer/planners on their team into strategic buyers. They identified raw materials procure
  • Director or Procurement for a manufacturer of store fixtures shared that their procurement team has historically been very transactional and commodity-focused, and they intend to develop the team’s strategic purchasing skills to take more responsibility for supplier selection, price negotiations, and supplier performance monitoring (currently done by operations). They are implementing Tableau to generate dashboards to support decision making from the legacy SAP system.
  • Corporate Procurement Director for a manufacture of disposable tableware and straws shared that the y implemented a new ERP systema and were not able to provide training for the purchasing organization in the past year. For 2023, they will focus on improving data manipulation and Power BI skills, and plan to bring a contracts module online.
  • Director of NPI Sourcing for a wafer fab equipment manufacturer shared that they started a new NPI sourcing team with newly hired staff in 2022. They have focused on creating standard playbooks for the team, and brought production buyers in to share their experience with various suppliers. While buying has been very transactional in 2022 due to supply constraints, they have challenged the NPI buyers to begin exploring frameworks with strategic suppliers for longer-term agreements. In 2023, they plan to implement training into annual development plans, with an initial focus on standardizing negotiation skills and cross-training with other purchasing teams.
  • Indirect Purchasing Director from an auto engine components suppliers shared that they have reorganized purchasing into a more strategic function in the past few years by centralizing the team in 3 North American locations to support 40 plants. They plan to focus on areas for developing the team’s skills in 2023:
    1. Expanding automation (launching a new version of SAP)
    2. Empowering buyers to participate in policies & procedure development
    3. Adjusting the team structure to leverage individual strength providing strategic procurement training for some (through LinkedIn Training and on-the-job training)
  • Director of Strategic Sourcing for a bus and coach manufacturer shared that understanding product licensing is an area of needed development, as they suppliers want them to act as resellers to their customers. Because their team focuses on finding suppliers and negotiating terms, handing off purchase orders and materials management to another team, they plan to focus on contract negotiation terms for 2023 skill development.
  • Global Procurement Director of an automotive supplier shared that they implemented APD training for cost analysis and negotiations in the past year. They plan to focus on 3 areas in 2023:
    1. Recovering inflationary cost increases from suppliers
    2. Working with customer-facing business teams to proactively manager stakeholder expectations
    3. Increasing collaboration with suppliers
  • Purchasing Director for an NVH automotive supplier shared that their organization was not able to provide training for the purchasing organization in the past year, but focused on building a “book of knowledge” of commo tasks in order to support onboarding of new buyers and maintain consistency. In 2023, they have purchased online training modules on topics selected by them and the team and are asking buyers to devote 2 hours/month to the training. For relevant topics, they will involve internal SMEs (e.g. lawyers, sales, controller) in the training modules.