Procurement Leaders – The Talent Attraction Reality

We attend a lot of procurement conferences and events and as a result we hear a lot of CPOs talk about their businesses, their priorities and their objectives.One of the common themes is the attraction and retention of talent.

In a recent report on the Future of Procurement by SAP Ariba they quoted some interesting statistics: 63% of procurement leaders do not have an established talent management strategy. The main barriers to achieving organisational efficiency enabled by digital procurement are:

Lack of data – 23%
Budgetary restrictions – 19%
Lack of internal talent/knowhow – 17%
Shortage of external talent – 13%

So when you combine the two figures for talent shortage (internal and external) you get 30% which effectively makes it the biggest barrier to organisational efficiency.

So CPOs are making all the right noises about the importance of people but what is the reality?

Or to put it another way, is procurement making savings or adding value in the recruitment process?

Procurement has gained significant savings in the recruitment category over the past 15 years. The implementation of PSLs and the leverage of the company’s buying power yielded easy wins. But with many recruitment companies now operating at tight margins the opportunity for further savings seems limited.

In light of this Procurement needs to add value to the business in terms of supply of recruitment services. Rather than view recruitment as a commodity to be bought mainly on price is there opportunity to find value? Let’s not forget, barely an annual report is published without a CEO reminding us that ‘people are our greatest asset’. So why is such a business critical category reduced to the lowest common denominator?

The commonplace commoditisation of recruitment is underpinned by the binary perception that a vacancy is simply either filled or not filled. Therefore it is just a question of filling the position for the lowest possible cost. To move away from this view requires insight in to time to hire and performance of the new recruit over a sustained period of time.

The first variable is easy to measure but a little harder to evaluate, particularly for highly specialist positions where the potential candidate pool is small. For example it’s unreasonable to compare time to hire for an office based admin position, where the candidate pool is huge, to time to hire for a rare skill set position, where only a handful of relevant candidates exist in a given geographical region.

Nevertheless, the recruitment supplier’s ability to find and place candidates as quickly as possible undoubtedly has a clear value to the hiring company, therefore should be part of the supplier selection criteria.

The second variable is the performance of the new recruit over a period of time. Anecdotally, most senior managers will know who their star team members are and who are only just meeting the minimum performance requirements. However, turning this into quantifiable data is a real challenge. And how often does the senior manager trace back the origins of the high performer in terms of which recruiter sourced the candidate, and then use this information to influence the choice of recruitment supplier going forward?

The typical PSL based contingency recruitment supplier arrangement serves to reinforce the commodity view. By instructing, say, three agencies on a vacancy using the ‘no placement, no fee model’ urgency is created amongst the suppliers. This helps minimise time to hire as the agencies race to ‘win’ the fee but incentivises the suppliers to submit only candidates they can access immediately rather than seek the best possible fit for culture and performance potential which may be a little more time consuming. In other words the long term value to the business may well have been sacrificed for speed.

Much is made by forward thinking procurement leaders of supplier relationship management. By forming a true partnership with suppliers they can create an opportunity for collaboration and innovation that benefits both supplier and customer. Examples cited often come from the procurement of components or raw materials but could this extend to recruitment services?

We have written many articles on how companies can improve their talent attraction, streamline their selection processes and get a deal done with the right candidate. Our knowhow and experience has the potential to be a game changer for a customer looking to be better. Will procurement embrace that opportunity?

The chasm separating companies from good candidates

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Some years ago our very own Peter Brophy wrote a couple of articles about the chasm separating companies from good candidates. In those articles Peter highlighted some areas where both organisations and the recruiters that represent them can improve the chances of finding the right candidate who has a good experience during the recruitment process.

There were two parts to this:

1 – The expectations and specification of the role (the new recruit)

2 – How we treat people during the process

We wouldn’t usually feature older content, but his comments are still very much relevant today. Both articles were published at the time on the Spend Matters UK/Europe website.

Read more at: Spend Matters UK/Europe – part 1

Read more at: Spend Matters UK/Europe – part 2

Confessions of a procurement recruitment specialist

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Back in 2014 Peter Brophy worked with Peter Smith and Nancy Clinton at on a two-part piece on best practice in recruitment with particular emphasis on the procurement market. It may be some time since it was written but it still makes fascinating reading.

Read more at: Spend Matters UK/Europe – part 1

Read more at: Spend Matters UK/Europe – part 2

Are poor recruitment processes holding you back?

Blog - Are poor recruitment processes holding you back

Many companies are pursuing significant growth plans involving greater headcount, but often the key constraining factor is the ability to hire and retain the skills and expertise needed.

How does your firm maximise your chances of recruiting the right person in a candidate scarce market?

To answer this question Edbury Daley has conducted some insightful research on the choice and implementation of recruitment and selection methods.

We have tested the impact of those choices on the success rate of a getting a quality candidate into the hiring business. Or to put it another way, is the selection process attracting or discouraging a potential employee?

The creation of talent pipelines and new employee engagement techniques are pushing the boundaries of traditional recruitment practice. The benefit of these methods is contingent on the conversion of the initial engagement into a hire.

They bring candidates to the start line of the interview, assessment and offer process. How a company interacts with the candidate from this point onwards determines whether they cross the finish line and join the hiring company.

Our survey has been designed to investigate this second stage of the recruitment process and provide data companies can use to improve their recruitment success rate.
Candidate facing, the questions were written to test attitudes and experience towards the mechanics of a typical corporate recruitment process. With companies investing heavily in cutting-edge talent attraction strategies, this survey is about what happens next; how candidates respond to companies’ selection procedures.

The data gathered can be used to formulate a robust framework for a recruitment process which all organisations can use to maximise their conversion of initial candidate interest into a high performing employee.

We hope you find it helpful!

Click Here To Download The Full Report

Consultancy referrals: the value of experience and trust

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At Edbury Daley the Directors have built strong personal reputations and extensive networks as a result of years of successful hands on executive recruitment. Perhaps the area in which this is most valued by our clients is in Procurement Consultancy. Not only do we recruit on behalf of several of the leading consultancies themselves, but we also have a strong track record with their clients when supporting transformation projects.

Senior Managers trust edbury daley to provide a consistently high level of service to their valued client contacts and have recommended us on numerous occasions. These leaders are confident we can offer the following to their clients:

  • Sound reliable advice on the prevailing recruitment market conditions, availability and cost of relevant candidates.
  • An understanding of how to source the talent that will enable their client to raise the bar in terms of procurement capability.
  • Client relationship management consistent with the standards set by the consultants themselves.
  • Confidence that we will prioritise their client and deliver the desired outcome
  • We don’t over sell and create unrealistic expectations which lead to disappointment for the client and embarrassment for the consultant.

Here are some examples of the work we have done with corporate clients as a direct result of a recommendation from a senior manager in consulting:

  • Recruited a new procurement team consisting of a Head of Procurement, four Category Managers (indirect spend), one Vendor Manager and an interim Category Manager  (IT) for a travel company after being recommended by the Director of a big four consultancy.
  • Three Senior Category Managers and two interim Category Managers appointed for a major electronics firm seeking to develop its category management strategy by working with a niche specialist consultancy.   Recommended by the MD of the consultancy to the client CPO.
  • Successfully recruited a Global Category Leader for a key area of indirect spend in competition with two existing PSL suppliers having been recommended to the client by the owner of a niche procurement consultancy.  We are now working on a European leadership role exclusively for this client.
  • Appointed six interim Sourcing Managers to support a time critical procurement program for a major international sporting event on the recommendation of a Director of a big four consultancy.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can source the people to support your transformation projects, please contact Andrew Daley on 0161 924 2385 or via

The Edbury Daley Talent Identification Programme

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Our Talent Identification Programme is designed to support organisations who are serious about identifying the best available talent in a defined sector of the market through the creation of a Talent Pipeline.

In contrast to most recruitment services it is not a short term solution to a particular vacancy, but a long term strategic planning tool to help functional leaders make informed hiring decisions and ultimately recruit the very best possible people for key roles in their teams.

What is a Talent Pipeline?

At Edbury Daley we define a Talent Pipeline as follows:

A detailed report on the availability of candidates with a specific skill set in a given industry, location or other defined set of criteria.  It features a pipeline of highly talented professionals, both active and passive job seekers, whom we are in regular contact with for the purposes of assessing and priming them for future opportunities with our client.

Reasons To Build A Talent Pipeline

By proactively developing a pipeline of talent, you will:

  • Identify the right talent early.  If you’re waiting until you need a hire to start looking for candidates, you’re too late.
  • Reduce your time to hire and recruitment costs. Establishing an ongoing dialogue with candidates gives you the option to accelerate the discussion when the time is right.
  • Gain an insight into your competitors talent and potentially gain competitive advantage by hiring their best people.
  • Prevent superstar candidates from slipping away. When the time to hire arrives, you’re already in the mind of your chosen candidate, reducing the risk of a salary war against the competition.
  • Minimize the business disruption caused by vacancies, especially unexpected ones, making you a better partner to the business.
  • Strengthen your company employment brand, as well as awareness that you’re hiring the best available talent.

Creating An Effective Talent Pipeline

The Key Stages

  1. Planning
  2. Talent Mapping
  3. Candidate Engagement
  4. Pipeline Maintenance
  5. From Talent Pipeline To Employee

Many recruiters, and hiring managers underestimate the time and resources required to develop candidate pipelines. Identifying, contacting, and maintaining relationships with quality professionals is a time consuming process requiring detailed knowledge of the relevant market and a clear communication strategy. An effective Talent Pipeline requires strategic planning towards your short, medium and long term recruitment goals. We must start by identifying your pipeline goals.


Managing your career: are you a leader, maverick, manager or doer?

Blog - Managing your career are you a leader

I have worked for some truly admirable people who make me proud that I had the privilege of playing in their team, and of learning my trade from them.

They range from a City Grandee, to a turnaround expert, to one of the best and most inclusive corporate players I have ever had the pleasure to serve.

Probably like you, I have also seen and worked for some desperately poor bosses, over the years, people who are memorable for all the wrong reasons.

There have been bullies, alcoholics, megalomaniacs, liars, and those who were just plain useless; some had been placed in their positions of authority by others, whilst a number had found the way into their posts by generating a lemming-like following of acolytes, who thought they could do no wrong.

There is almost nothing as debilitating and demoralising as sharing a work environment with someone who is professionally incompetent or behaviourally inept, and who has earned a position of responsibility for reasons that are forever a mystery!

Today I operate as a volunteer, in an environment where that type of person could mean the difference between survival and death; in my opinion, the dedicated and skilled front-line staff often keep the service afloat, in spite of their managers.

In the business and commerce world, we all need to care about how we avoid professionally inadequate people from prospering, and how we ensure that we avoid attracting criticism about ourselves.

Professionally, I have had considerable success in my career; I have also made some poor calls, and certainly exhibited room for improvement. Because of my ‘type’, I have always tried to identify where I have gone wrong, fix it, and avoid a recurrence.

That level of self-awareness, the ability to be analytical and self-critical, and the humility to invite and absorb constructive criticism from others, is essential. I was brutally coached on this point in my early career, when I was told I had a level of self-awareness similar to a “run-away JCB”.

Let’s start then, by distinguishing between the differing roles in the workplace.

The Doers are the essence of many organisations; their actual productive grunt work is required to make the place function – on the forecourt, someone has to clean and polish the cars; in the call centre, someone has to handle the phone or web-based traffic; in the baggage hall, someone has to move the passengers’ luggage; in the utilities sector, someone has to dig the hole to reach the fault.

Happily many Doers are satisfied with their lot – they are content to arrive on time (but not much earlier), hop on to the treadmill, and jog diligently through the day, before leaving on time, and returning home, with very little thought for the workplace, until they rock up for their next shift.

The Doers follow process that is established, proven, and measured for them by someone else – they are relatively dis-interested in stepping away from that process, they may only give feedback on their work content if and when asked.

We would all be in a bad place without the Doers, and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with being a Doer – in fact, it’s a pretty important piece of the formation and learning for all of us.

The Doers, however, need to be motivated and supervised by a different being, one who controls the treadmill, provides access to it, and decides when the speed needs to be changed, to meet organisational goals, or when additional coaching is needed because output is not good enough.

This is the Manager or Supervisor role, the place in the organisation for those of us who know the processes, know what the levers and drivers are, and have the will and the skill to lead others in pursuit of the outcomes.

Managers and Supervisors are the translators; they accept the legitimacy of the organisation’s goals, lead their teams to deliver the required outputs and targets, and contribute to the process of shaping future goals.

There are two angles to this role, operational capability, knowing the processes, as described earlier, and behavioural skills to motivate, communicate, observe, and to exhibit pastoral care and respect for their teams.

Not everyone has the potential to be a Manager; many do not want the responsibility, many others abuse it, and some just get it wrong; others are excellent in the role, and become completely indispensable to their organisations, their leaders, and their teams.

A good Manager is someone we look up to, respect, follow, and often even like, because of their elegant and inoffensive, but knowledgeable style…becoming one requires accumulation of knowledge, skill, and behaviour.

In contrast, working for a poor Manager can be a misery – these people can sap the energy and motivation of fired-up, eager, and intelligent people, in a heart-beat.

A great Manager is constantly prepared to push their sleeves up and get stuck into the job, hands-on, when needed, and to provide visible support to their team.

Have you recognised yourself yet?

Not all Managers have the potential to be Leaders; organisational leadership is a different beast – this is the role for those who have vision, resource and strategic thinking ability; they also need the capability to assess and quantify risk, because they take decisions that affect everyone else.

Leaders can decide that an additional call centre is needed, because of approaching capacity, or that an emerging new technology means we need to change the organisation to survive when it arrives, or that we should acquire a weaker competitor, or that we should be expand into new markets, products, or services.

Leaders do not always make good Managers – many do, and have worked their way up from the ground-level in some capacity, often acquiring a working knowledge of varied disciplines; others have essential qualities, characteristics, and facilitative skills, which do not lend themselves top day-to-day management.

Politicians can be an example of people who have found themselves in a position of leadership without serving their apprenticeship as Doers or Managers – we hear political leaders trying to illustrate their humble roots to us, trying to prove that they were once like us, so they know exactly what we’re going through…often the silver spoon in their mouth was so large that they couldn’t see over it!

Those who have come up through the ranks in business and commerce are proud to exhibit their provenance, while those who are just natural or born leaders seem to have an empathy and a sense for what makes the organisation work, and what is needed to deliver on their strategies.

Those people though must have the humility to recognise where they need to augment their operational knowledge – that’s why leaders “return to the shop-floor”.

One of the great leaders of my career was a CEO under whom I served as a Director. When he was not fulfilling his CEO role, his Board and City duties, and his leadership of essential meetings, he was out and about, constantly on the move, amongst the workforce, the customers, and the suppliers, finding out what was really happening, observing opportunities for operational as well as strategic improvement.

Consequently, Directors’ meetings tended to contain a few surprisingly accurate insights, from a man, some of whose peers in competitor organisations seldom left the comfort of their sedan-chair!

All of which leaves the Maverick – and you’re all wondering what that is, and what role exists for these ‘off-the-wall’ characters in a ‘structured organisation!

Within reason, organisations need mavericks, those who will not or cannot do, or manage, or lead, whose behaviours may not be particularly inclusive; they may be happy to be excluded from the day-to-day business, but may also have a knack of spotting ideas and innovations that could be breakthroughs.

Vision and great governance is required to attract and integrate Mavericks successfully into an organisation, combining freedom, tolerance, resource, and some checks and balances to avoid chaos!

We should all try to have some good ideas and original thoughts – mavericks though, are the potential game-changers, some will succeed, others will fail; others will turn out just to be work-shy and not maverick at all!

Which are you, what are your plans to progress from your current role, and what does this mean for Procurement?

First, build and maintain a self-portrait of which type you are, through knowledge of your skills, your behaviours, aspirations, shortcomings, and attitude to risk; then augment this with good, objective feedback from those who know and trust you.

Next, you’ll need a personal development plan, and, an appetite and motivation to self-improve; in many cases, a professional external coach will add value.

You will also need to build-in some KPM’s; a Manager, who is too devoted to experimentation and inadequately interested in day-to-day performance of their team, is at risk of not delivering.

A Leader, who is too far into the operational detail, is unlikely to become famous for their leadership; instead, such leaders may place their organisation at risk from competitors and market forces.

Can you progress from one to the other? Absolutely – look at my current favourite example, David Abney, who worked his way from the bottom to the top of UPS.

Others have stumbled and struggled with Manager to Leader progression; the worst have gone on to break their organisations.

Still others like Branson and Dyson, are born Leaders, who would struggle with the constraints of day-to-day management or operations.

They are the Leaders who inspire us, and typically amaze us with their vision and level of strategic thought, when we hear them speak – go to TED or Harvard Business Review, for some outstanding material and videos.

In Procurement, there are some fascinating examples – many of the best Procurement leaders have come up through the operational ranks, they have experienced and succeeded in transactional and strategic spend areas, they have developed technology and process, suppliers and markets, they are relationship experts, they understand risk, and they have a deep grasp of an organisation’s strategy and drivers.

Others are woefully average, and just would not/did not inspire me.

I have always looked for the thought-leaders, the innovators, who in addition to their innate and developed people skills, have a real feel for the levers that will create competitive advantage; they instinctively develop an environment and reward structure which enables people in their teams to express themselves and succeed.

Think about it – which and who are you? How does your self-portrait compare with your ambitions, and what’s your plan? Are you happy to be average, or do you want to be remembered for your achievements and your behaviours?


Five things our most successful clients do when hiring

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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 a 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.

Five advantages of using an experienced recruitment consultant

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Recruitment market conditions have materially improved in the past six months in particular.  More companies are hiring and strong candidates have multiple opportunities to consider, so competition for the best people is now fiercer than at any time in the last five years.

In the current climate companies need to understand the market conditions they are facing and how best to be successful in the circumstances.  This is where an experienced high quality recruitment consultant can add real value over the more basic agency service prevalent in many markets.

With this in mind we have highlighted five key areas in the recruitment process where an experienced consultant can be the difference maker in hiring the talent you need.

1. Offers an accurate appraisal of the attractiveness of a new job opportunity

Will the candidates you want be interested in your job?

Agent: Takes job brief and sends any relevant candidates from the database.

Consultant: Advises hiring manager of attractiveness of job vacancy in the context of current market conditions and advises on best sourcing strategy.

2. Assesses the availability and cost of suitable talent in the relevant market conditions

Is the candidate you seek available at the salary budget allocated?

Agent: Sends candidates who are suitable but you cannot afford or vice versa.

Consultant: Discusses the potential to flex either the salary or the person spec to get the right blend of cost and skills for your business.

3. Helps position your company and opportunity better to the external market

How can you make your job more attractive to the best candidates?

Agent: Accepts the market perception of your company as an employer.

Consultant: Provides accurate feedback from potential candidates and suggests ways to position your company as an attractive employer.

4. Creativity – knows where to look for right people, especially for rare skill sets, not just the obvious places

Where are suitable candidates to be sourced from for difficult to fill positions?

Agent: Searches a database and advertises the position and sends you whoever they have.

Consultant: Suggests less obvious sources of good candidates and uses their network to pursue them on your behalf. Won’t send weaker candidates just for the sake of it.

5. Better conversion rate, candidate management, valuable in these market conditions

How do you get more of your job offers accepted?

Agent: Arranges interviews and hopes that the candidate accepts your job offer.

Consultant: Manages candidate and client expectations throughout to maximise likelihood of candidate acceptance.

Five tips for attracting the best procurement talent

Blog - Five tips for attracting the best procurement talent

A commonly held view is that an organisations ability to attract and retain the best talent is dependent on its culture and the reputation of its products and services, but senior management can develop this further by focusing on the following key areas.

  1. Establish a reputation for shared professional excellence, a real sense of team, genuine opportunities for career progression and personal development. This starts with engaging and retaining your existing staff and in procurement in particular, offering opportunities to work on exciting projects like transformation programmes.
  2. Understand how to project that reputation to the market place through publicising your successes in relevant industry media, effective networking and choosing your recruitment partners carefully.
  3. Identify experienced specialists in your network who you can trust to advise you on relevant market conditions, salary trends, availability of desirable skills and can help you project your reputation as an employer of choice.
  4. Develop a talent scouting programme that can evolve into a succession planning tool.  Working closely with HR and trusted recruitment advisers is key to making this work.
  5. As a Senior Manager understand your own key role in attracting the best people and develop yourself into a unique selling point.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this, in particular how to develop a talent scouting programme or how best to project your reputation to the market place, please contact Andrew Daley on 0161 776 4603 or via