Procurement Technology and Interim Management – a match made in heaven or hell? Part 2

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In his first article Andrew Daley reviewed what is happening right now in the Procurement Technology sector and how solution vendors and their clients are coping with the demands and opportunities that the digital procurement revolution presents. Here he explains how you can be best prepared if you have a digital transformation project on your agenda and how specialist recruitment expertise can help you land the best possible talent.

In my opinion, you need the advice and knowledge of someone who understands this specific niche market and that’s where recruiters like Edbury Daley can make a difference.

We’ve already enjoyed success in this market for a while but as we knew this development would come sooner rather than later, we made it our long term objective to replicate our success in the permanent market for procurement technology specialists by making ourselves the go-to supplier for the associated interim market.

There are details of what we are doing to achieve this, but before we get to that we need to address what needs to be on your agenda if you are planning a transformation project around the adoption of a digital procurement solution and want to consider hiring an interim.

Clearly defined requirements – plan this so you can take control of the skills you need to hire rather than being reactive and having to firefight mid-way through a project.

A clear plan on when you intend to hire – too many organisations get this wrong and go to market at the wrong time making life harder for themselves. Plan ahead, decide on how to source the people you need and identify realistic, achievable timescales.

A realistic budget – get some advice on the likely cost of the resource you need.

With the two latter points, many organisations often overlook the value of engaging a specialist recruiter that can advise and help plan ahead. If you want to gain an advantage on your competition for these scarce resources, don’t treat the recruiter as a necessary evil and view the relationship as transactional when you can get real value from some basic SRM practices – that’s what our most successful clients do!

So what is it that makes us so well positioned to advise in this area? Here’s a sample of what we are doing to ensure we can meet the needs of our clients:

  • Use our extensive network across the procurement technology market to identify who is buying or upgrading solutions, embarking on new projects or finishing existing contracts.
  • Using a range of methods to build relationships with every relevant interim specialist in the European market. For example, we attend relevant events like eWorld, Procurement Leaders and SAP Ariba Live to build and evaluate the relevant talent pool.
  • We provide existing customers with regular updates on the availability of specialist contractors to support their resource planning.

What will that mean for CPOs, CFOs and CIOs invested in these projects?

  • We can advise them on which contractors are available now and when others will be free in the short term.
  • We can advise them on developments in day rates and candidate availability as we are building detailed knowledge about the skills landscape in this niche market.
  • We are involved in the sector and monitoring the peaks and troughs in supply and demand meaning that contractors are coming to us first looking for new roles because we are specialists with a strong reputation in the market.

So that’s the good news. We know what’s happening, we are advising our clients and doing everything in our power to help them achieve their goals because that means a successful outcome for us.

But there is some bad news that is hard to sugar coat. IR35 is coming to the private sector interim market and that is going to have cost implications for us all! Employers, recruiters and contractors!

With this in mind, we have also invested significant time and resources into understanding the impact of the forthcoming changes in IR35 tax legislation. If this is something on your radar that you need to know more about, I’m sure we can help. If it’s not on your radar yet, it needs to be soon.

The key thing to note at this stage is that it’s going to affect the majority of contractors in any project that goes beyond April 2020. That might seem a long way off at the moment, but if you’ve got a transformation project starting later this year and you intend to use interim resources, you will need to account for it in your budget.

The only bit of good news I can offer around an increase in tax costing you more of your budget is that we are well placed to advise you on the implications. I’ll keep attending the IR35 seminars, reading the briefing papers we get from our professional body (APSCo) and keep sharing the information with our clients to help them plan ahead.

If any of the issues I have raised in this article are likely to impact your business then maybe it’s time to get in touch with me. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and I’m confident that it will help you understand the value of planning your recruitment in advance.

For further information on the procurement technology sector and recruitment advice please take a look at some of our articles and videos.

Procurement Technology and Interim Management – a match made in heaven or hell?

In this first article of a two-part series, Andrew Daley reviews what’s happening right now in the Procurement Technology sector and how solution vendors and their clients are coping with the demands and opportunities that the digital procurement revolution presents.

The start of 2019 has seen a marked increase in demand for interim resource with specific experience of implementation projects for P2P and S2C solutions like SAP Ariba, Coupa and Jaggaer.

But what’s caused this and why now?

Well, the wider interim professional market is relatively flat, as is the full-time job market, largely because of the uncertainty created by the political situation around Brexit.

In fact, in a recent report by recruitment professional body APSCo John Nurthen, Staffing Industry Analysts’ Executive Director of Global Research commented: ” With both permanent and temporary/contractor vacancies declining by 4% in January compared to 12 months earlier it is difficult to view the market through a lens that isn’t obscured by Brexit uncertainty.”

So what we are seeing in procurement tech’ goes against a wider trend in the employment market and to understand why we need to look at what has caused this and why it’s the start of an ongoing trend.

The first thing to note is that many of the software vendors are thriving as sales of their solutions increase on the back of the digital procurement revolution. Here are a few examples:

  • Ariba is clearly reaping the benefits of SAP’s investment in solutions and people
  • Coupa’s share price is outperforming market expectations
  • Jaggaer’s takeover of Bravo Solutions is now complete and given them a strong market position
  • Ivalua is investing heavily in the UK market
  • Proactis has grown through a series of acquisitions

With Basware and Tradeshift now clear to pursue their own growth strategies following the aborted merger, and several best of breed solutions enjoying good results, it’s a growing market, offering end users a great deal of choice.

We’ve actually been predicting that the increase in demand for specialist interims will happen since October 2017 as evidenced in our Insider Procurement & Spend Management Report. We expected it to happen before now simply because of the availability of these skills in the market (or lack of them), but companies adopting these solutions have largely found other ways to approach the challenge.

Many end user organisations have used the implementation teams of the software providers themselves (particularly common with SAP Ariba, Jaggaer, Proactis and several mid-tier players), whilst others have used specialist consultants, particularly Coupa clients, to drive adoption of their new systems. In fact the big consultancies have built their growing digital procurement practices on the back the transformation work associated with the latest generation of spend management software.

The consultancies have aspirations to further grow their specialist teams in this area, but they are constrained by the availability of these skills themselves and that is stretching their capacity and in some cases impacting on client satisfaction. There is also demand for very similar skill sets from the software vendors, particularly SAP Ariba with their heavy investment in their customer success, implementation and value engineering teams. Ivalua has hired more solution consultants in the past year whilst others have fought hard to keep their teams intact as competitors and the consultancies seek to tempt their best people.

So we’ve got high demand outstripping supply in the full time market which is constraining delivery focused resources, and several additional factors that appear to be pushing organisations down the interim route including:

  • The cost of employing consultants, particularly from the top tier consultancies
  • Some frustrations with the output of the consultants as mentioned above
  • The desire to have greater control and ownership of the process internally
  • Pressure for results from senior management driving greater urgency

So we are now seeing greater demand for specialist contractors who can lead P2P implementation projects, manage internal and external teams and relationships and deliver the outcomes that clients signed up for when they invested in their preferred solution.

And why not when you can hire a highly experienced practitioner for £600-£800 a day and even when you add in a recruiter’s margin, that is still much more cost effective than hiring someone less experienced from a consultancy or software vendor at c.£2000 a day!

Add in supporting roles like business analysts, business process specialists, supplier adoption specialists plus program and project managers and you start to see a meaningful change in market conditions.

But there is a problem with this model. The availability of these skills is still constrained so with a simple supply-demand equation there will be an increase in cost (i.e. day rates) over the course of this year and next. This will only be exacerbated by the changes in IR35 legislation affecting private sector companies next year (more on that below) but ultimately the big winners here are the contractors who can offer these skills.

The challenge for companies who want to hire them is that they are competing for people who aren’t driven by the classic career goals or necessarily that bothered about how exciting a project is because life as an interim is about finding the most lucrative projects to work on, usually in 6-12 month cycles.

To get the best talent into your business you’ve got to have the budget to pay competitive rates and be able to move quickly when the right skills are available before someone beats you to it. But how do you ensure that you’re in pole position to land the right people at the right time?

In Andrew’s second article on the subject, he shares his knowledge and experience about how you can be prepared if you have a digital transformation project on your agenda and how specialist recruitment expertise can help.

The Future of Procurement – Skills, Development, Recruitment & Retention

The Future of Procurement is a subject that has attracted a lot of column inches from thought leaders in the past couple of years, but the debate has picked up some real momentum in the past few months resulting in it being a central theme at several of this autumn’s procurement events.

Following on from our feature on The Future of Procurement in the last report where we examined the opportunities that exist for the function to evolve from a savings dominated agenda, Andrew Daley was asked to speak at two such industry events. He was fortunate enough to see some great input from several respected procurement leaders and offer a recruiter’s perspective to the debate. The discussions centred around the future skill set, the use of technology as a catalyst for change and the implications for professional development, staff retention and talent attraction.

Starting at the SAP Ariba Procurement Summit which was sponsored by Deloitte, there were excellent presentations from Guy Hubball (ex CPO of BP), Marcell Vollmer (SAP Ariba’s Chief Digital Officer) and Graham Wright of IBM, all of whom touched upon the skills debate to some extent.

Taking the various points raised and seeking out areas of agreement, we are able to offer the following summary of what these leaders told the audience:

Technology is already offering a step change in procurement capability. Early adopters are working on their data strategy with the objective of embracing spend analytics capability. Such data will also drive machine learning and the use of artificial intelligence to automate tactical activities and provide a platform for better decision making and insights.

A key challenge for procurement leaders is to map out their future vision of what procurement will offer to their organisation and develop a plan to recruit, retain and develop the people who will be able to focus on the strategic value-added activities that will be enabled by the current and next generation of software tools.

Common themes in the vision for these strategic value-added activities include a Consultative Sourcing model along the lines of the trusted advisor approach. This will include greater business partnering, collaboration both within the organisation and externally with suppliers, opening opportunities for supplier led innovation.

The challenge for procurement leaders is this area is twofold:

Firstly, identifying the skills required to deliver these services, for example, better relationship management skills to facilitate improved business partnering, an entrepreneurial mindset for supplier collaboration, whether that be through existing staff development, external talent attract or a combination of the two.

Secondly, embarking on a change programme to educate the business stakeholders about what this new iteration of the procurement profession can offer the organisation and creating a fertile environment for their teams to deliver on this.

One of the many upsides for the leaders who embrace this challenge is that it gives them a huge advantage in both existing staff retention and external talent attraction.

Aside from the focus on data and the debate about the future procurement skill set, it’s clear from the discussions at this event that the use of procurement bots is now becoming more common and will see significant growth in the near future. It’s widely expected that this will evolve into greater use of voice recognition technology along the lines of Amazon’s Alexa.

Companies seeking to create their own bespoke solutions are at risk of missing out on the investment and development in the cloud-based solutions from the major vendors that will be regularly updated and improved as the vendors learn from their broad customer base.

AI driven tools like IBM’s Watson can be deployed to support functional leaders and Group HR to streamline and improve internal career development capability, digital skills development and recruitment from both internal and external sources. This is a potential game-changer for organisations who are serious about hiring the best available talent in a market characterised by skills shortages.

SAP Ariba is incredibly passionate about CSR. Its “Procurement with Purpose” mantra was a strong theme throughout and it’s a subject that we talked about in some detail in our last report.

Again the technology exists to dig deep into the supply chain for visibility. Justin Sadler-Smith talked about an automotive client who has visibility into seven tiers of their supply chain, so there’s some exciting potential there for organisations who need to think very carefully about this area. It’s also a capability that will prove very valuable in a post Brexit UK.

For all this talk about the potential for technology to be the catalyst for procurement to evolve, to offer more to its stakeholders and become a truly strategic function, the fact remains that the people who are able to talk about this from a position of strength and experience, rather than a future desire to achieve it, are in the minority as outlined above with the figures from the Deloitte CPO Study.

We estimate less than 10% of functions are making real headway on this digital transformation journey and as Andrew Daley ]told the audience at the SAP Ariba event: “Procurement leaders should be inspired by what they’ve seen from the profession’s leaders, inspired to go and develop their future vision for their procurement function in their organisation.”

All the technology tools are there, all the learning resources are available, all the thought leadership is fairly consistent in its vision for the future. It’s up to procurement leaders and the emerging stars who seek to emulate them in future to go out there and make it happen.

The good news for our clients is that we are mapping out the innovators and early adopters, tracking the people who have these skills, and working with the people are who are passionate about hiring them.

A week later Basare Connect offered a slightly different emphasis but an equally enjoyable range of topics to consider. The common theme was as you would expect – the opportunities that exist for procurement and finance professionals to embrace the digital transformation opportunities as outlined above.

UK&I Country Manager Louis Fernandes spoke about the meeting of mind and machine, the opportunities and the limitations that exist when humans work with the latest technology to embrace “Superfinance” as he put it.

This teed the audience up nicely for what followed and something that Basware do very well – their events have speakers from outside the immediate procurement and finance world to give a different perspective from many of the other technology vendors. They give the attendees something of an education and a great deal of food for thought. They are also a lot more interesting than a detailed walk through of the challenges of a P2P implementation project!

Last year it was Matthew Syed (The Times journalist and “Ping-pong guy” from the BBC podcast) who gave the audience a fascinating presentation entitle “Black Box Thinking.” This time it was Rohit Talwar, noted Futurist, Author & Advisor.

His presentation “AI and the Next Frontiers of Business” outlined a vision of some mind boggling possibilities underpinned by the development of AI that are potentially closer than we think. He also explained several examples where AI is already infiltrating our lives in many ways we don’t realise.

His work as an advisor to some major corporations enabled him to outline how the best organisations are typically looking 10 years ahead to what they might achieve with technology and explained how that enables planning now which in turn develops ideas we can act on now.

This might seem like an obvious concept but it’s one that few organisations have truly embraced.

Another point of interest that he raised was about how leadership skills will need to evolve, particularly for hybrid organisations that truly combine the power of humans with the potential of Artificial Intelligence. These organisations will present unique challenges that are still very rare now.

This observation about leadership was part of the presentation where he touched on the challenge of developing new skill sets for the new world, a subject regular readers will know we are passionate about and one that we’ll explore further below. It’s clear from what Rohit was saying that like procurement and finance, other professions clearly have their own challenges to reinvent themselves in a digital world.

Much as we’d like to cover the subjects Rohit talked about in more detail, we wouldn’t be able to do them justice in this report. So our advice is this: if you are interested in understanding more about where the technology might be heading in the next 5-10 years then you could do much worse that read one or more of Rohit’s books as part of your own personal development. We certainly intend to.

Amongst the breakout sessions later in the day was Peter Smith of Spend Matters talking about “What’s Left For Procurement.” Regular readers of Spend Matters will know that Pater and his colleagues have already devoted a lot of coverage to the future of procurement in an automated world. Their thought leadership on the subject is largely in line with what was debated at the SAP Ariba event and you can read more about it here.

Our own Andrew Daley followed Peter at the Basware event with his presentation entitled Climbing the Career Ladder in an Automated World. Picking up on the rather concerning data from the Deloitte CPO report mentioned above, Andrew’s message was to take responsibility for your own personal development and not wait for. He told the audience to embrace the new way of thinking before the opportunity passes them by, as the job market is likely to approach a tipping point where digital procurement skills will become increasingly valuable.  

He talked about how people can utilise the myriad of learning resources available to them to help with this professional development and then “go find a visionary leader to work for.”

HIs audience debated the skills that will be required by procurement professionals in the future. Amongst those that were suggested were the ability to envision what the possibilities are for the future of procurement technology and a willingness to self-educate in the absence of suitable training.

Broader commercial skills, such as a wider understanding of the financial implications of procurement-led decision making and a more entrepreneurial mindset to help facilitate more business partnering, collaboration and seeking out supplier led innovation were also up for discussion.

Of course these subjects will continue to prompt discussion across the profession in the coming months and years and we’ll be sure to be part of that debate. We’ll also be looking for those people who are at the forefront of procurement evolution on behalf of both the hiring companies we work with and the individuals who seek suitable opportunities to advance their career with the right organisations.

To read the rest of The Procurement & Spend Management Insider where this report was originally published, you can download it here.

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?