While many folks know me as a supplier diversity expert, many don’t realize that I started out in procurement.  I believe that procurement is the foundation upon which much of your business is built, and you want it to be strong. This is Part 2 of a three-part series about what you need to do to make your purchasing function a strong contributor to your company’s bottom line.

Part 1 focused on data quality improvement. In this post, I look at the importance of people.

2. Improve the Quality of Your Personnel

Too often, I’ve seen people moved into purchasing departments for all the wrong reasons. Purchasing is an area in which skilled professionals can have a tremendous impact.

In addition to strong sourcing process skills, the best procurement professionals understand your business, your market, technology, industry trends, the multitude of suppliers available and changes in the environment. They possess the ability to do analysis. The more complex the products and services being sourced, the better skilled your personnel need to be. If your company has technical functions, for instance, make sure the procurement personnel in charge of sourcing for those functions have technical skills.

Training is essential. Make sure your procurement personnel are properly trained in sourcing techniques. You don’t want to be sourcing an item the same way year after year. You may have a great supplier, but are there other suppliers with better pricing? Has the item you are purchasing become more widely available, at better terms, than two years ago?

It’s also imperative that procurement personnel understand the requirements of what they are purchasing, so that you get exactly what you need for the best total value.

Editor’s note: Read Part 1 of Rod’s three-part series on “Getting Procurement Right,” which focuses on data integrity, and stay tuned for Part 3.