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Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Procurement Leader — Everything a Procurement Professional Should Know

Key take-aways

  • Procurement leaders help maintain the flow of procurement processes running smoothly and successfully.
  • Becoming a procurement leader comes with a set of challenges.
  • Procurement leaders are a big asset to a company since they are a huge factor in increasing its profitability.

Behind every successful procurement process is a good procurement leader. Procurement’s success is dependent on how effective procurement leaders lead their procurement team to success. 

For this article, we will discuss how to be a procurement leader. We will explore the needed skills that a procurement leader must possess. Additionally, we will check the ways to consistently achieve high levels of procure-to-pay performance. 

Once you finish this article, you can now call yourself a procurement leader too. Being able to know this knowledge will allow you to apply it in your profession or your business. This will enable your business to develop further as you lead your people in the right direction.

    Becoming a Procurement Leader

    It takes a lot of time, determination, skills, and experience to be a procurement leader. Many people call themselves leaders. But what does it take to be one?

    A good procurement leader is welcoming toward individuals who are new in the field of procurement. They encourage and lead the employees by giving feedback and empowerment. 

    Procurement leaders create an environment where procurement teams and employees can innovate and voice their suggestions to succeed. 

    Leaders need to demonstrate the real value of procurement to individuals to show its importance. This is to let your employees know that procurement is a core strategic function to raise its profile in the organization. 

    To become a procurement leader, there are steps that you need to do to qualify. Below are the steps to being a leader in the field of procurement:

    1. Use data to your advantage

    Procurement leaders know how to use data to their advantage. Procurement leaders need to utilize data effectively because it can affect their procurement strategy. 

    Using data in their procurement strategy can ensure that the organization uses its time and resources effectively. 

    In this modern age, procurement leaders must gather data to deliver valuable insights to their team members. This will enable the team members to support the growth and profitability of the business. 

    2. Keep track of the records

    If anyone needs information to do their tasks effectively, you must be able to provide it immediately. Procurement leaders keep track of the records that are valuable for the company’s growth.

    Keeping records of the purchases of the company helps streamline processes like invoicing. Additionally, it builds a purchasing history that is valuable for decision-makers. 

    3. Measure your performance

    Procurement leaders know that for procurement to be successful, they must also improve themselves. 

    Procurement leaders know that there are aspects that they still need to improve. They know that learning is crucial not just for them but for the success of their team members and the organization. 

    To grow, procurement leaders must identify and improve metrics to measure their contribution to the organization. 

    Procurement leaders must also consider targeting certain areas that remain unmanaged. This will give value and reduce unmanaged spending to maximize the resources of the organization. 

      Top 3 SkillsNeeded to be a Procurement Leader

      Do you have what it takes to be a procurement leader? As we have defined what should a procurement leader be and what characteristics he/she should have, there are also specific skills he/she should entail. 

      Here are three skills a procurement leader needs to have:

      1. Leadership skills

      Of course, a good leader possesses this skill. Strong leadership skills for procurement allow team collaboration to work effectively. 

      Additionally, having leadership skills can improve the profile of procurement within the organization which is greatly needed to streamline it. 

      2. Skill to influence others

      Every great leader knows how to influence their team. A procurement leader must know how to influence colleagues and suppliers to improve the processes. 

      Influencing others can create relationships that will greatly benefit procurement in the organization. Influencing senior-level positions will allow you to gain buy-in and raise the status of procurement in your organization. 

      3. Communication skills

      Leaders know how to communicate well with their team and suppliers. Being able to communicate effectively can immediately resolve the problems that may arise in procurement. 

      Good communication skills can create good relationships with your supplier that makes it easier to negotiate prices. 

      How Do Procurement Leaders Stand Out?

      What makes procurement leaders stand out? One factor is their responsibilities which are quite elevated and bear a lot of weight to make procurement processes flow smoothly. However, that’s not all.

      Here are a few reasons why procurement leaders stand out:

      1. Aligning procurement strategy to business objectives

      Procurement leaders stand out because they align their procurement strategy with the business goals. 

      Procurement leaders engage more with other business functions than the other departments in technology. Additionally, they take advantage of supply chain opportunities. 

      2. Contributing to the top and bottom lines

      Procurement leaders contribute to the top lines by innovation and engage suppliers in new product development processes. 

      It also affects the bottom by increasing the total value of the purchased goods, collaborating with other business units, and enhancing the organization’s working capital. 

      3. Managing risks

      The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of procurement in an organization. Additionally, it has shown how effective procurement leaders manage risks due to the disruption of the pandemic to the supply chain. 

      Procurement leaders stand out as they usually use risk-impact analysis, financial risk management, and disaster planning to counter uncertain events. 

      4. Frequent use of supplier relationship management (SRM)

      Procurement leaders attract attention in the organization as they use supplier relationship management. SRM helps them know what to improve in the supply chain. 

      Those who lead procurement are also forward-thinkers. They identify opportunities with their suppliers, detail implementation plans, and create incentives. 

      5. Utilize technology 

      Leaders have more control over their expenses through the use of technology. Technology allows more visibility of the purchases and transparency of the transactions when integrated into the procurement processes. 

      Additionally, they have access to real-time data which is crucial when deciding and creating plans for the procurement.

        Top 10 Procurement Leaders to Follow in 2023

        Many procurement leaders excel in the procurement industry and continuously inspire other professionals in the same field.

        Some founded and built their own companies of both physical and e-procurement and some remained as huge personalities in the procurement field, working for huge companies like IBM.

        Here are the top 10 procurement leaders you should follow and take inspiration from in 2023:

        1. Marijn Overvest

        Marijn Overvest, the founder of Procurement Tactics, has more than 20 years of experience in procurement and negotiations. 

        He founded Procurement Tactics to help procurement professionals in their profession and achieve their dreams of closing every deal that they make. 

        Throughout his journey as a procurement and negotiation professional, he has closed over €200 million in deals with suppliers like Unilever, Heinz, and Pepsico.

        Additionally, he has been working with both large and small companies e.g. Shell, and Walmart; he also is a popular keynote speaker at global procurement events.

        Currently, he is focused on developing procurement tactics to share his knowledge with procurement professionals through the online course he has created. The courses that he formulated cover the entire procurement and negotiation processes while giving tips and strategies on how to be an effective procurement professional.

        2. Matthias Gutzmann

        Matthias Gutzmann founded the Digital Procurement World in 2019 after being frustrated by how existing conferences at that time were expensive for a limited startup budget.

        By 2019, he launched the conference which boasted a record-breaking attendance of over 400 industry leaders from 33 countries and was dubbed “the best procurement event in years”. 

        Before this, he was the Vice President of marketing and business development at Vizibl and led the market entry of procurement leaders in North America. 

        3. Philip Ideson

        Philip Ideson has spent more than 20 years in procurement. He is the founder of Art of Procurement which is a procurement media and advisory business. 

        Before the Art of Procurement, he was a procurement leader at Accenture, Pfizer, Visteon Corporation, and Chiquita. 

        The Art of Procurement Podcast is the number one weekly procurement podcast with a community of over 10,000 procurement executives. 

        4. Stephany Lapierre

        Stephany Lapierre, the founder of Tealbook, has been recognized as one of the top 100 most influential women in the supply chain.

        She has spent 10 years creating successful strategic sourcing and procurement consulting firms before her establishment of Tealbook. She has made it her mission to provide a trusted source of supplier data to the growing e-procurement space.

        Currently, Tealbook is the only big data company that offers a self-maintaining and self-enriching mechanism to fix supplier data. 

        5. Lance Younger

        Lance Younger, the founder of ProcureTech, has worked with major companies across the industry like Vodafone, Nissan, Nokia, Goldman Sachs, Roche, Jaguar Land Rover, etc. 

        ProcureTech, a digital platform, is focused on building the digital future of procurement. In 2021, ProcureTech curates the Annual ProcureTech100 with Kearney which listed down the digital procurement solutions supercharging the procurement industry. 

        6. Sheri Hinish

        Sheri Hinish is certified in leading corporate sustainability and innovation by Harvard University and Organizational Leadership by Cornell University. 

        She is a senior executive leading IBM’s Global Sustainability services practice. Recognized as the 2022 top supply chain leader by Supply Chain Digital, she is known by her colleagues and clients as the “Supply Chain Queen”.

        Sheri Hinish is also the People’s Choice 2020 Global Women in Supply Chain Leader and a recipient of the Corporate Vision Excellence award for the 2020s Most Influential Leader in Supply Chain & Technology. 

        7. Mark Perera

        Mark Perera is the founder and CEO of Vizibl. His mission is to help companies collaborate with their supplier ecosystem to drive sustainable growth. He founded Vizibl to put collaboration & innovation at the core of supplier relationships.

        Mark Perera also founded the Procurement Leaders which he exited in 2019. He co-authored the book “Procurement with Purpose” to inspire people to act and is a practical guide to implementing real change in procurement. 

        8. Sebastian Chua

        Sebastian Chua started at Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies as their country manager for Singapore, India, Thailand, and the Philippines before he took on the job as the regional procurement manager. 

        In 2022, he was awarded the Special Mentioned Individual Award by Supply Chain Asia for his contribution to the national emergency procurement for the COVID-19 operation.

        He was also awarded the 2021 Asia Procurement Leader Award at the China Procurement Success Summit, the 2019 APAC Procurement Leader Award by the Procurement Leaders, the Public Service Innovation Champion Award by the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore, the 2017 Asia Supply Management Awards by CIPS, and the 2017 Supply Chain Professional of the Years by the Supply Chain Asia. 

        9. David Rae

        David Rae has been the Chief Product Officer at Procurement Leaders. He is also a Sustainable Procurement Ambassador for “The Sustainable Procurement Pledge” since 2019. 

        With over 12 years of experience in advising and connecting people in the procurement industry, he uses first-hand market knowledge to create products aligned with the needs of his clients. 

        10. Amanda Prochaska

        Amanda Prochaska is the founder of Wonder Services, a consulting firm for procurement organizations, that helps procurement leaders change their business operations and achieve business results through the right application of technology solutions. 

        Additionally, she is the founder of Global Women Procurement Professionals and the operations partner at ProChain Ventures. She speaks at a variety of procurement conferences and has held procurement executive roles in various international companies. 

        Conclusion

        Indeed, behind a smooth-flowing procurement process is a good procurement leader. However, to be one is not easy. It takes a lot of time, persistence skills, and experience to be called a great procurement leader who leads a team of procurement professionals.

        Moreover, there are a few qualifications you need to breed and grow, as well as skills you need to learn and enhance over time.

        Nonetheless, it’s great to become a procurement leader because they stand out and make their teams stand out even more.

        Frequentlyasked questions

        What is a procurement leader?

        A procurement leader is someone who leads the procurement department or team to help support the organization’s daily operations. 

        Does procurement need a leader?

        Yes. Without someone leading procurement, the organization will spend more on the procurement process which will affect its development. 

        What skills do procurement leaders need to have?

        Some of the skills that procurement leaders must possess are communication skills, negotiation skills, influencing skills, and leadership skills.

        About the author

        My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

        Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics