Hiring for Procurement in the Project Economy
By Hugo Britt | December 20, 2022
The shift to the project economy has been so subtle that perhaps you haven’t noticed it happening. But the reality is that project-based organizational structures are replacing top-down, role-based hierarchies in businesses of every size.
Ask yourself if you’ve noticed any of the following trends in your workplace.
- Your organization (including the procurement function) seems to be in a never-ending cycle of transformations.
- Employment tenures are getting shorter, with millennials sticking around for an average of three years.
- More contingent workers are joining the organization to work on a particular project, then move on.
- More cross-functional teams are being formed to work on specific projects.
In a nutshell, this is what the project economy looks like. Project-oriented activity is expected to reach $20 trillion by 2027 and employ 88 million people in project management roles, enabling organizations to innovate and adapt faster, keep up with the pace of change, and drive faster product lifecycles.
But what does this all mean for the future of hiring in procurement?
A new way of thinking about hiring for procurement
The project economy is changing the nature of the workforce. The shift from role-based to project-based talent strategies means managers need to bring together fluid, agile teams made up of permanent, temporary, and external talent.
In procurement teams, managers could benefit from splitting their hiring strategy into three parts:
- Operations: A core group of permanent employees to manage the tactical “churn”: the operational procurement tasks that keep the function running. These tasks are being increasingly automated.
- Firefighters: An agile group of problem-solvers that deals with procurement/supply disruptions.
- Project teams: Cross-functional teams made up of permanent and temporary employees who work on transformational procurement projects.
Here are some tips for hiring procurement talent in the project economy:
Structure your hiring around upcoming projects:
Take a mid to long-term view of your upcoming projects and think about what sorts of skills will be needed. Conduct a capability test to generate a skills map of your team so you can see at a glance where the gaps lie and what skills will need to be filled for upcoming projects.
This will enable better decision-making in terms of up-skilling, assigning permanent team members to a project, hiring temporary (expert) staff, or outsourcing where necessary.
Assess all new hires on project management skills:
Just like the rise of IT has meant that every employee needs to be digitally savvy (not just the IT team), the project economy will mean that every employee will need at least a basic grasp of project management skills. Build a relevant skills assessment into your hiring process and look for previous project experience when reviewing resumés.
Hire for soft skills:
Assess new hires for skills that will lead to success in a project team environment, like communication, collaboration, adaptability, autonomy, and a willingness to learn.
Open the door to temporary hires:
Temporary hires are a key pillar of any project-based hiring strategy. Temp workers bring specialist knowledge to a team, join for the length of a project, then move on. While they can be more expensive to hire on a per-hour basis due to agency fees, their additional expense tends to be accepted as the cost of flexibility.
Trust and empower project teams to work autonomously. Avoid slowing projects down by centralizing decision-making powers or micromanaging. A better approach would be to establish goals for the project, provide the tools and guidance needed, then step back and let the project team manage itself.
Not sure how or where to get started? Choose a project, like improving supplier diversity or automating accounts payable, for example, then assess your current team’s talent mix. From there, you will be able to assign some team members to the project and fill remaining gaps with temporary workers possessing specialized skillsets.
Set goals, establish timelines, empower the team to work autonomously, then watch them thrive.
Not necessarily ready to hire for procurement but still need help?
Whether you’re looking to gain control of your indirect spend, reduce maverick purchasing or find ways to save time, effort, and money, Una can act as an extension of your procurement team to make your upcoming projects a success.
Contact us to learn more about utilizing a GPO to make the most out of your procurement strategy.
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