Building Soft Skills in Procurement Aug. 7, 2019, 3:04 p.m.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are the qualities that enable a person to interact, collaborate, and lead effectively.

It is important to note that “there's nothing soft," about the impact these unique human skills will have on business outcomes and therefore soft skills should be as much attention as usual technical solid skills linked to procurement.


To perform effectively, a Procurement professional must act as a relationship manager, a negotiator, a leader, and a trusted strategic partner.  It's these areas where the hard value of soft skills becomes especially evident.


The primary soft skills for this discussion include emotional intelligence, imagination, creativity, active listening, adaptability and negotiation.



Creative Thinking


You want to be the person who is known for their accurate idea, good judgment and lateral thinking.


Procurement experts will have a role to play in solving [these problems] in the most efficient way and not just quick fixes.


This is a role for procurement’s best and brightest, and the skill needed to fulfil this role is creative Thinking - the process of being at the forefront of bringing new technologies to bear on business problems.




Thinking at the speed of digital


Joh asserted that procurement must recognise that thinking of digital solutions requires understanding of new processes and ways of thinking.


Too often procurement thinking is slow, bound in process and incredibly risk averse. On the other hand technology problem solving is experimental, iterative and views failures as key to learning. This widens the adaptability gap and is the result of lower technological solutions in procurement compared to other departments.


Procurement people should be learning about methodologies that are used in other types of digital business.


Active listening and questioning


Communication is vital for everything from presentation skills to phone etiquette and how to ask probing questions to your suppliers. People buy from people

Procurement professionals need to become more of an owner and less of a process facilitator - which is where active listening comes in.


Use the information to do the best job possible




More often than not, we rely on the threat of competitive pressure to do our negotiating for us. We source the spec and don’t always listen to challenges from Suppliers.


When we’re engaging them to help solve complex problems, we will need to be more commercially empowered and highly skilled negotiators with ability to get the best from our suppliers by offering the best of ourselves while optimising value.




But procurement’s problem solving needs to take on a more innovative and imaginative approach.


Not every situation is going to call for an RFx. It is important to should take a deep breath and start understanding the client and exactly what they need and approach the problem in alternate ways.


Running tender might be the solution but collaborative innovation with the suppliers we have is important.


Emotional Intelligence


Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand who you really are and accommodate others.


In order to be successful here, you will rely heavily on your ability to understand yourself as a person, read and handle the perspectives and reactions of other stakeholders too.