The problems we solve – Procurement technology hiring – today and tomorrow

Are you a senior manager in a solution vendor or consultancy partner with big growth ambitions? Maybe you are a CPO who wants to accelerate your digital transformation?

Either way, you will have a plan to achieve your objectives, right?

Part of that plan will require key people to step up and deliver on the goals you agree with them. Some of them maybe in your team already but what about the ones you haven’t hired yet?  

How detailed, how realistic, how achievable are your hiring plans? Do you know what the market is paying for those skills and what the availability is of the people you want? Do you know how and where you will find them? Have you thought about why they might leave their current job to work for you and your organisation?

Our experience is that the answers to these questions are usually inadequate when subjected to real scrutiny. Companies enter the recruitment market with insufficient or inaccurate information and unrealistic expectations and then wonder why it’s so hard to find the right people.  

The role is then open for longer than expected and this impacts on organisational or departmental performance, expectations aren’t met and targets become more difficult to achieve. Does any of this sound familiar?

Want we see from many organisations with their hiring process reminds us of the old phrase “fail to prepare, prepare to fail!” So why don’t companies engage in research in this area like they do in others? You wouldn’t go into a brand new market without researching it would you? You wouldn’t stand up in front of your leadership team and present brave ambitions without having done your homework beforehand would you? 

So why enter the recruitment market to make key hires without any forward planning?

Our clients using our full service offering make consistently more successful appointments, with shorter hiring timescales than average because they enter the market equipped with up-to-date, sector-specific market intelligence.  

Sometimes this requires just a meeting or phone call to scope out a planned business critical hire. On other occasions, a full research project is needed to support a wider hiring plan. But planning makes all the difference and massively improves the probability of success.

If you want to tap into our expertise, please get in touch.

We see things before our clients do – some evidence.

When you have an intimate knowledge of many of the key players in a specific market, you’ve met their people, you’ve helped them hire for key roles and you’ve headhunted people on their behalf from their competitors, it gives you a unique insight into those companies, their people and their place in the wider market.  

Here are some examples of how we’ve used that information to help customers solve problems they were still in the process of identifying.

“Our sales team isn’t up to it”

The new Sales Director of a software firm I know well told me: “I’m not sure about the quality of the sales team I’ve inherited.” I replied: “I am, they aren’t up to your standards.”  He asked why and here’s what I told him:

“I have tried to headhunt some of them in the past and wasn’t impressed at all. They haven’t hit their target in the last two years – that’s why your predecessor got sacked. Morale is low, they all want to move on and if they were top performers they could command much higher salaries in this market. I do have some good news for you though.”

“Oh yes, what’s that?”

“I’ve known we were going to have this conversation since the day you told me you were joining the business and I’ve got some better people in mind for you once you are able to start hiring.”

So now we are working on bringing some of those people in to change the dynamic of the team. He’s working on developing the best of the people he’s inherited and has made some changes elsewhere.

Our insight gave him a head start.

“We need to focus on our customers”

We could talk about several organisations that aren’t investing enough in customer success. They work very hard to win those customers through competitive sales processes then risk losing them with poor implementation and adoption thereafter. Sound familiar?

We will focus on one solution vendor that we know well. I was aware of their specific problems and it was my view that they needed to hire the very best the market could offer to address the various issues their customers were facing.

When they came to me with a requirement to hire into their team I told them very plainly: “you aren’t paying enough for the people you need.” I gave them examples of the people they could afford and I presented two much stronger, more costly candidates that I thought they needed.

There was lots of discussions about budgets, talk of internal barriers and other challenges, all of which I completely understood. Eventually the hiring manager followed my advice to at least meet with the more experienced, stronger candidates to make the comparison. He hired the most expensive one.  

When he called me to thank me for risking my relationship with his HR team by consistently telling them what they didn’t want to hear he said: “In the end, the additional cost on salary is a drop in the ocean compared to what this person will save us in lost revenue by keeping our customers. Thank you for your insight and putting him in front of us.”

“Our digital transformation is floundering”

A CPO told me that her adoption of a full-suite solution wasn’t going to plan. I said: “I’ve heard as much, that’s why I got in touch with you.” She asked how and I told her: “From people involved with competitor vendors and consultancies.”

One of the things you learn when operating in a niche market is that it’s a very small world and people talk, often to ex-colleagues in competitors. So word spreads fast!

She asked me what other CPOs are doing in similar situations. Of course every organisation and every transformation program is different, but I explained that what I was starting to see more of in the market is the hiring of a specialist in this area, someone who has been on this journey in their career before, someone who understand the challenges, the opportunities and the bumps in the road and who can guide you through it all. 

We talked about the availability of such skills, the cost, the interim and full time options available. She’s now building a business case to gain internal budgetary approval to make that hire. I hope she gets it because the people I have in mind for her could make a big difference to the success of this project.

 

Why Attending Procurement Events Makes A Big Difference To Our Clients

Have you been to any of the following events in the last couple of years?

  • SAP Ariba Live
  • Ivalua Now
  • Coupa Inspire
  • eWorld
  • Amazon Business Exchange
  • The World Procurement Congress
  • Other events from vendors like Jaggaer, Proactis, Wax Digital and the rest
  • Any other Procurement Leaders or ProcureCon events

We go to almost all of them and here’s why.

The presentations educate us about the subject matter, particularly around digital transformation and this helps us understand our clients, their businesses, their objectives and challenges.

We know the relative strengths and weaknesses of many of the solutions on the market. We know the innovations they have in the pipeline and we know what their existing customers are saying about the solutions.

We observe how the various software vendors are presenting their solutions to potential customers. We engage with their salespeople, get valuable information on market trends and assess the calibre of all the people we meet in the process. We are effectively talent spotting.

Overall it’s a great chance to network across the procurement technology ecosystem. The sponsors and exhibitors are solution vendors and their partners. The delegates are procurement, supply chain and finance professionals. We can work with any of these people now and in the future. 

People from across the sector ask us: “What’s the market like?” They respect our opinions and value our insight.

Our presence there gets noticed by all these people across the various communities. They recognise our commitment to the sector and when they meet us they quickly realise we are credible business people who understand their world. 

So what benefit could that have for you as a client of Edbury Daley?

The people in the market become familiar with us and the direct result of this is that they come to us first when they are thinking about moving jobs. In other cases they are more receptive to head hunting approaches from us than other recruiters because they know that we are credible. 

This gives us access to the best talent in the market. In many cases these people only talk to us about their careers. In effect, we become a Talent Magnet for those companies that we hire on behalf of and that helps us fill vacancies that others can’t.

Because we’ve been attending these events for years, people know we were the first to make a visible commitment to this specific market. They know we’ve been around for a long time and can be confident we’ll be here today and tomorrow.

Trust, credibility, integrity, deep market knowledge and strong relationships across the sector – why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of this when furthering your career or hiring to achieve your business objectives?

The Procurement & Spend Management Job Market – Four things to watch for in 2020

As keen observers of job market trends, it’s already clear to us that there are several factors likely to impact on the procurement world and wider professional employment markets in 2020. Here’s what to watch out for:

  1. Procurement Technology gains more traction?

Will 2020 be the year when the leading CPOs truly start to covet digital procurement skills?

We think so. Momentum has been building slowly for a while and the conversations we have with many leaders tell us there is more appetite now than ever.

The catalysts for many companies will be more focus on training and development supported by key strategic hires, often from organisations that are already innovators in this area.

Hiring people, who have been on the digital transformation journey and know the route to best practice use of tools like SAP Ariba, Coupa, Jaggaer and Ivalua will become increasingly common creating a more competitive market. It’s a finite pool of people, many of whom have been waiting for the opportunity to be the architect of this transformation for forward-thinking CPOs as the next chapter in their career. We’re excited about working on these projects.

        2. More growth for the solution providers?

There is already expectation in the market of a big hiring push at Coupa in 2020. The talk at Coupa inspire was of a planned investment of $55m in product development with strong rumours that this will be supported by aggressive hiring. 2019 saw significant PE backing at several vendors, most notably Ivalua and Jaggaer, and of course, investors will want a return on that investment which will typically include growth in both sales and headcount.

We already know that SAP Ariba are set on continuing their aggressive growth strategy including the protection of their existing accounts which is always supported by excellent talent acquisition (watch out for some high profile arrivals there in January 2020).

Meanwhile, new ownership at Wax Digital pushes them up into the bigger leagues. It’s expected that the investment will make them more competitive, both in terms of hiring and product offering.  Plenty of best of breed solutions will look to build on strong performances in 2019 so the market should continue to thrive.

The battle for talent in an already competitive market will ratchet up a few notches in 2020 and we can’t wait – it’s what we love.

      3. UK Election result brings more certainty?

It feels like a dangerous area to get involved in predictions, but we can’t ignore it.

Theoretically, the decisive result of the UK election is expected by many to mean some improvement in the wider job market. The theory being that the country can now hopefully leave the last three years of Brexit related inertia behind us, meaning companies are more likely to increase investment.

However, we still have uncertainty given that the big question remains about the impact of Brexit. Talking to people in positions of influence in the market, the feeling is one of cautious optimism based on the theory that finally getting on with it has to be better than what’s happened over the last three years.

Companies can now put plans in place for life with the UK outside the EU. Procurement and technology can be at the heart of the changes and whilst we don’t expect to see big headcount increases in the corporate world, increases in demand from the vendors and consultancies, along with a less cautious approach around replacement headcount generally, should see a gradual upturn in job market activity for the procurement world overall.

      4. Tough year for the UK interim market?

April 2020 sees the introduction of IR35 into the UK private sector and it’s very hard not to see it having a negative impact on the interim market, certainly in the short term.

It’s going to create uncertainty for employers, contractors and recruiters will push employment costs up and the early evidence is that it will drive some contractors back into the permanent market. This is because they fear reduced demand for their services and the financial incentives to work on a contract basis have been eroded considerably.

For some companies, it’s going to present an opportunity to hire some seasoned former interim professionals on a full-time basis, and this could be particularly helpful to the consultancies who are battling to hire valuable yet scarce skills around P2P/S2C transformation projects.

Companies that really need the flexibility offered by the interim workforce will be faced with either increased costs (day rates, employment and admin costs) or finding a way to adapt their philosophy to help them navigate the rules of IR35. Companies that are able to do the latter have an opportunity to hire some great interims who will be attracted to projects that fall outside of IR35 whilst others get to grips with the new regime.

A note of caution – there are already some alarming stories circulating about people’s perceptions of how a contract role can fall outside of the IR35 legislation. It is important to get really good advice on this, ideally before you go to market for the skills you need to hire, so you know whether your project is likely to be affected or not because the cost implications of getting it wrong are significant.

If you need some guidance, please get in touch.

What’s wrong with your recruitment process?

In our People & Hiring Challenges research earlier this year, which received 450 responses, one of the questions we asked was: “What is your biggest hiring challenge?” 

The answer with the second-highest rank, with 18% of respondees identifying as an issue, was “we aren’t seeing the right candidates.”

Our whole message to the market is built around being able to solve this specific problem for our clients in the procurement technology world. It’s also a subject that is clearly a problem for many organisations.

So with your help, we want to research the subject in more detail to help everyone better understand the issues.

Please take no more than two minutes to answer our questions, and be in with the chance of winning a £200 Amazon voucher. Here’s a link to the survey

The Autumn Procurement & Spend Management Insider – October 2019

Our critically acclaimed report is in the pipeline, due for publication in October. Regular readers can look forward to the usual combination of news, insight, research, analysis and a bit of industry gossip including some high profile, unexpected job moves. Here’s a taster of what you can look forward to.

Movers & Shakers

The procurement technology sector has some high profile, unexpected moves in the pipeline that we’ll be able to share with you, whilst we’ll also bring news of several senior departures from one key player in the sector. There’s also news from the European market along with an update on recent results of the software vendors, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.

What’s happening in procurement leadership?

The senior end of the procurement job market was relatively active earlier this year. We’ll examine if this trend has continued into the second half of the year, where the opportunities have been and give senior professionals valuable insight into the demand for their skills.

Job Market Data

We’ll analyse the latest job market data from KPMG and both leading recruitment professional bodies (APSCo & REC) to assess what’s happening in the UK’s professional job market. We’ll look at how the trends compare to what we see in the procurement and spend management professions to keep you up to date with what your career development options look like.

People & Hiring Challenges Research

We’ve had a great response to our recent research where we asked leaders to tell us about their biggest challenges with their existing teams and the problems they face when hiring. With over 100 responses, the analysis provides very interesting insights into the real issues that businesses are facing.

There is still time to contribute before the survey closes at the end of September. It will take you less than a minute to complete so please get involved. Here it is.

If you missed the Spring edition of The Insider, it’s still free to download here.

Five things our most successful clients do when hiring

Blog - Five things our most successful clients do

Is your organisation struggling to hire the people it needs to progress? Do you think your recruitment process could improve?  Is it geared towards genuine talent attraction?

We have seen many organisations struggle to hire the people they want. We’ve also seen how a few simple changes can make recruitment processes much more successful so that you really do hire the best people. In our experience there are five key things that make recruitment a success – sign up below to get the full insight which will help you make a difference to your hiring.

  1. They make sure they understand the relevant talent pool and skills available at the salary grade in question
  2. Ensure everyone internally is on board, role signed off, stakeholders aligned, process planned, realistic time scales set
  3. Are clear about their go to market strategy and have invested in their talent attraction brand.
  4. Select a recruiter (external or internal) who has the market knowledge and network to source and engage relevant candidates.
  5. Make recruitment a priority to ensure good candidates aren’t lost through delays and poor expectation management.

In more detail, the best hiring companies…

  • Consider their employment proposition from a candidate’s point of view. What are the likely earnings and aspirations of an ideal candidate likely to be at their current employer? Are they offering the type of candidate they want a better package and career development? If not, they adjust the salary or the person specification. They understand the reality of the labour market for the skills needed and that if they want to source the best people who can make a difference they accept that top candidates are in short supply and do everything they can to sell their business to them. They understand they need to assess and excite the candidate at interview.
  • They accept that recruiting staff is a very costly exercise if they get it wrong. It is an essential part of any business and it pays to do it properly. They ensure it is seen as a key activity and not something that is last minute or at the end of the day. It needs to be prioritised and taken as an important activity that managers allow time for. They don’t treat it as an admin process. They champion recruitment and prioritise it at Executive level.
  • They consider what people outside their business really think of it and what the brand means in terms of career prospects and interesting work and more importantly as a place to work. They avoid the common mistake of thinking good candidates will apply anyway…they won’t. People inside the organisation may think it is a great place to work but ask why should an external person apply? What is their reputation? It is critical to find this out. Ensure that the person a candidate meets for their first interview has the gravitas to impress and motivate the candidate to take their interest further. It helps if the person is senior enough to give a real vision and understanding of the strategy of the business and the function. They don’t let a relatively junior team member do first interviews. Even a short meeting with a senior member of the function can make a significant difference to the perception given. They ensure that all the interviewers are briefed and understand what the business is looking for. They don’t assume every interviewer will know what is needed, they ensure it.
  • Pick a recruiter who is credible and really understands the specific market place and who will act as a brand ambassador. Ensure they will provide a credible message that will resonate with prospective candidates and can genuinely interest them. A poor recruiter will diminish a company’s perception in the candidate community and produce fewer candidates to consider.
  • They have a plan and stick to it. Recruitment often fails to deliver in time as most organisations don’t plan when each stage should happen or ensure all the interviewers are available. It is critical that the process runs smoothly.

The best hiring companies prioritise recruitment so interviews aren’t postponed and candidates feel that the role is important to the business. We have strong evidence that good candidates quickly become disengaged if there is a perception that the process is dragging and it also risks them getting snapped up by competitors.

They are absolutely realistic and clear from the beginning about the salary and benefits the business can offer. Too many organisations will give a salary range but are actually only able to offer at the lower end. This can be due to internal salary scales or for fear of causing problems internally if a higher figure is offered or out of budget. However this is a major and frequent mistake which can seriously mismanage candidate expectations and leads to many offer rejections. Candidates who have been approached about a role are highly unlikely to move unless there is at least a 10% increase in base salary and benefits. In a competitive market offering a small or no increase is highly unlikely to succeed unless the person has a compelling non monetary reason to move.

What is the real impact of BREXIT on the procurement job market?

DATA & OPINIONS

This article is an excerpt from our Procurement and Spend Management Insider Report, published earlier this year. The picture for recruitment seems surprisingly positive and any impact of Brexit has been difficult to gauge. We have picked up mixed messages but have looked into what we can find out in terms of real data around the workforce as many studies show we are at record levels of ‘employment’.

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) clearly has a strong interest in the labour market. It commissioned research that shows there was a 95% reduction in EU nationals joining the UK workforce between the referendum and Q1 last year and this has no doubt continued as their Autumn Employment Outlook indicated that 44% of employers were struggling to hire, particularly in certain niche areas and additionally that the number of non-EU nationals arriving has significantly fallen.

It may well be that this sudden reduction in the arrival of people with skills of all kinds coming to the UK is ‘counter-intuitively’ one key reason why the recruitment market has appeared to remainstrong. As the pipeline of candidates is significantly reduced vacancies are unfilled so remain ‘live’ as has been reported to us by a number of clients.

This may also back up why recruitment has seemed to be taking longer in many instances as vacancies are unfilled and stay advertised longer making it appear the jobs market is healthier than it actually is. The reality is a lower volume of vacancies but even lower fill/completion rates. CIPD evidence indicates a fall of 30% in the number of applicants to each role.

Ultimately as to whether this can be linked directly to Brexit may be a matter of personal opinion but the coincidence of workers not coming to the UK and rising skill shortages seems a clear one
to us.

This talent shortage will impact in a big way – it may just be ‘hidden’ for now. Organisations may need to plan ahead carefully and consider the implications of this candidate shortfall on their hiring plans.

The Institute for Employment Studies has also investigated the likely impacts on the employment marketplace of Brexit and has published a number of articles on this subject.

THE HR PRACTITIONER VIEWPOINT

Speaking to some of our HR contacts, many see the current situation as one of mitigating risks and the need to put plans in place. The typical view is that they have to assume that Brexit may well happen and that as things stand certain legislative changes will come in linked to immigration that needs to be thought through now.

If it doesn’t happen, so be it, but until that point they need to plan for the impact.

Many felt the CIPD research was correct and that skills shortages are becoming more acute so therefore staff retention (particularly of EU and non-EU staff) is seen as a very high HR priority.

In many organisations, HR is encouraging EU citizens to go through the new Government registration scheme as it seems likely to be needed (unless we stay in) and the new migration points system will likely be introduced in 2021 making it harder to bring people into the UK.

Therefore, HR people are quite clear that the labour market will most likely significantly tighten over the next two years until 2021 regardless of how we exit and then dependent on the deal the UK
strikes may prove even more difficult going forward.

In this context, their view is that organisational approaches to recruiting and the job requirements may need to be totally reviewed and flexed. Be ready for HR initiatives on retaining staff as they see this is likely to be imperative especially in business-critical roles.

Simplistically the HR view is that since the referendum it is harder to recruit and is highly likely to get significantly harder.

Organisations will need to think very carefully about resourcing. One key observation is that when certain key staff resign it may well be that counter offers will become standard.

In a tight labour market organisations may not be able to afford to lose certain skills and in this context, it will become a highly candidate driven market with the highest bidding organisation winning.

We’ve seen significant evidence of this in the past six months with counter offers more common during that period than has been the case for several years. Interestingly many senior candidates are expecting such offers before they resign and are even factoring this into their negotiations.

We are advising our clients to be more mindful of this challenge and have seen several candidates resist such overtures as a result, but ultimately there is a limit to how much you can manage this risk.

The Institute for Employment Studies also has investigated the likely impacts on the employment marketplace of Brexit and specifically the freedom of movement. This article offers some interesting reading.

People & Hiring Challenges Research

We are passionate about talent and love connecting great talent with fantastic career opportunities.

It’s a big part of what motivates us every day.

And the more we understand about the subject, the more we can help people and companies.

So we’re undertaking some further research into the issues that we care about and we will be sharing the results with the participants and our valued clients.

We are asking just two questions:

  1. What is your biggest people challenge?
  2. What is your biggest hiring challenge?

We know you are busy and that there are a lot of surveys out there.

But with only two multiple-choice questions this one will only take 30-60 seconds to complete, including leaving your name and email address so you can be entered into the draw to win a £200 Amazon voucher.

Here’s the link to the survey.

Please get involved.

How do recruitment processes impact on the battle for procurement talent?

Blog - How do recruitment processes impact on the battle for procurement talent

We instigated some timely new research on the choice of recruitment and selection methods and the impact of those choices on the success rate of a getting a quality recruit in to the hiring business.

As the global economy recovers many companies are pursuing significant growth plans. Often, the key constraining factor is the ability to hire and retain the skills and expertise needed. Employer Branding and Talent Communities are becoming the new parlance of Human Resource Management as bigger corporations embrace the advent of social media to gain an advantage in finding the people they need. 

You can download our research here.