Over the past 15 years, there have been numerous campaigns by the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD and most recently the European Commission to ‘professionalise the procurement profession’. This year’s Deloitte Global CPO Survey also highlights the current Talent Gap, whereby the majority of procurement professionals are still concerned about the talent available to them, as 51% believe that their teams do not have the skills or capabilities needed to deliver on their procurement strategy.
Unfortunately, Procurement is still seen as an administrative gatekeeper function rather than a profit centre which directly benefits the bottom line margin. However, research from AT Kearney, the Hackett Group and the Aberdeen Group shows that top-performing Procurement teams save on average 10% more, experience 22% higher net profit margins and generate 7% in incremental revenue. While a fully functioning procurement team will also mitigate the risk of loss while improving compliance and governance throughout the supply chain.
So as investing in procurement capacity and capability development makes commercial sense, why is procurement lacking the validity of a profession? Before we begin, some definitions from the Professional Standards Council, will help the discussion;
- A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards. This group positions itself as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and is recognised by the public as such. A profession is also prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.
- A professional is a member of a profession. Professionals are governed by codes of ethics, and profess commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good within their expert domain. Professionals are accountable to those served and to society.
- Professionalism comprises the personally held beliefs about one’s own conduct as a professional. It’s often linked to the upholding of the principles, laws, ethics and conventions of a profession as a way of practice.
- Professionalisation is the pattern of how a profession develops, as well as the process of becoming a profession
Hiba Tahboub, Procurement Regional Manager for Europe and Central Asia at The World Bank depicts Professionalisation best (as above), whereby professions like medicine, engineering, accountancy and law have criteria such as:
- A Recognised Body of Knowledge
- Professional Education and Training
- A Certification Program of Qualification
- Code of Ethics/Conduct
- Minimum Standards
- Professional Associations
So we put the challenge across our community and to answer the question of “Is Procurement a Profession?”, could we ask you to rank the above criteria from 1-10 to determine procurement’s stage of professionalisation?
While we are gathering, and analysing the above criteria, the case for Professionalising the Procurement Profession makes perfect sense with benefits such as;
- Establishing a Specific Level of Knowledge and Experience
- Professional Recognition and Personal Satisfaction for Procurement Professionals
- Indicator of expertise through verified Qualifications
- Improved career/advancement opportunities
- Increased credibility with all stakeholders
- Enhanced procurement results (across the realms of People, Process, Knowledge, Technology and Culture)
Feel free to suggest further reasons to professionalising the Procurement Profession in the comments section below.
We appreciate your contribution to the above brief survey as we gather your perspective on the status of the Procurement Profession.