Academy Insider Vol 1 – Summer 2015


Message from the Editor

As procurement professionals and leaders, it’s imperative that we navigate our way through Procurement’s rapidly changing roles within the enterprise. We’ve made profound shifts over the past decade from operating in tactical, back-office roles to becoming strategic partners who are able to influence our companies and drive more savings than ever before.

However, functioning strategically requires a Procurement team of the future. For most organizations, now is the time to begin determining what Procurement competencies will be needed in order to hire and train the right talent. Since Procurement professionals are more in demand than ever before—and you really can’t recruit your way out of the talent crisis—most Procurement leaders are examining how advanced learning can help provide team members with the tools, templates, technologies, and soft skills necessary for a more collaborative and strategic workforce.

This newsletter is designed to be interactive so that we all can share ideas, concerns, and topics of interest. Please feel free to submit any comments or suggestions.

Susanne Wrage
Director, Denali Academy



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Effectively Addressing the Talent Shortage in Procurement

The talent shortage in Procurement isn’t a new topic; it’s been on the radar for several years. That’s why Procurement organizations often face challenges when creating strong teams with the right skillsets. Two factors that contribute to this include:

  • Procurement needs to continuously develop new skillsets to create value for the organization as a whole;
  • Rather than just “doing deals” (e.g. getting contracts into place), Procurement needs to position itself as a strategic partner with its business stakeholders. To be successful, that change in scope carries with it a change in required competencies of the Procurement organization and its people.

In the recruiting arena, demand for Procurement professionals surpasses supply. As in any tight market, this leads to price increases—however, higher salaries are not necessarily an option for Procurement departments, which are under pressure to deliver more with fewer resources and contribute higher ROI.

The solution for this challenge is a focused approach to talent development. This targeted development includes five distinct stages. Procurement departments need to:

1. Determine competencies needed for the team to be successful. Competencies for sourcing professionals, for example, may include:

  • Functional sourcing skills, or sourcing methodologies—such as RFP development and spend analysis.Business and financial acumen, Procurement needs to understand how their work affects the overall enterprise and how its contribution affects the competitive advantage and the company’s bottom line.
  • Relationship management, which becomes increasingly important, as internal stakeholders and suppliers alike can make or break the success of any given project.
  • Negotiation skills, crucial to developing successful negotiation strategies, understanding tradeoffs, and getting to sustainable, mutually agreeable outcomes.
  • Analytics skills for developing insights into complex data, and providing the basis for data-driven decision-making.
  • Process thinking, with the ability to execute consistently and intelligently on an existing process as a key factor for success.

2. Assess team members. An assessment should focus on evaluating how proficient team members are in a given competency and which gaps should be addressed.

3. Develop and implement individual learning plans. A shotgun approach to learning, where every team member goes through the same training, makes sense only for baseline setting (e.g., to introduce new processes). The training to address the skill gaps mentioned above should be based on individual assessments. A focused approach will produce higher return on investment (ROI) or return on education (ROE).

4. Build and implement strong training courses: The courses need to be relevant, well-designed, and delivered in an appropriate format (i.e., e-learning vs. classroom training). They need to push practical application so that participants can put into practice the desired mindset and behaviors. Unless training changes observable behaviors, it falls short of its purpose and is not cost effective.

5. Measure success. Procurement organizations need to gauge whether the training has been successful. They should observe the change in aforementioned behaviors and evaluate the employee based on behaviors after the next performance review cycle is executed.

Procurement departments that follow these steps will be able to do more with less. Their teams will be more productive and more efficient. …




Microlearning: Changing the Way Procurement Professionals Grow Capabilities

Procurement professionals are busy and constantly being challenged. While attending traditional 3- to 4-day classroom training would allow them to learn new skillsets, it’s often difficult to find time.

Studies have shown that microlearning, a new learning trend, is an extremely effective approach to learning faster and more efficiently. It targets the way a human brain is wired to learn: in short, digestible learning units. The result has been proven to yield more engagement, more completion, more retention, and more application into real-world practices. The effect is tangible: more sourcing and contracting projects that stay on track, as well as a better return on education dollars spent.

Microlearning by nature requires innovation. It calls for fresh instructional approaches to make education fun and interesting for the participants. The most essential components include

  • Time
    : Relatively short (suggested 5-10 minutes).
  • Content
    : Small units or “nuggets” and narrow topics for simplicity.
  • Curriculum
    : Parts of a larger learning module.
  • Recursive
    : Selective repetition for better retention and top-down understanding.
  • Context
    : Stories rather than just facts and concepts for optimal retention.

Examples of microlearning include:

  • Weekly quizzes
  • Podcasts or videos
  • Games or gadgets in the classroom
  • Group and/or interactive discussions

Digestible nuggets can include a wide range of topics that are of interest to Procurement professionals: Introducing topics such as Porter’s Five Forces, tips for supplier negotiations, methods for developing better terms and conditions that help companies mitigate risks. Those topics must fit a broader strategic approach that helps the organization develop strong Procurement competencies. If that layer is missing, the microlearning catalog can become a random collection of clutter.

It’s important to note that microlearning is the backbone of blended learning, which we will discuss in greater depth in the next issue of Academy Insider.

Click here to try a sample eLearning module from Denali Academy.

Contact us to find out how Denali Academy can help your organization explore microlearning.

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Denali Academy: Fall 2015 Training Dates

Go here to see the latest dates

Category Management Foundation
Sept. 1-2; Pittsburgh, PA

Category Management Foundation
Sept. 8-9; Bellevue, WA

Category Management Excellence
Oct. 1-2; Pittsburgh, PA



Featured Whitepaper: Procurement’s New Era–Driving Value through Strategic Category Management

In the past decade, the impact of Procurement’s role within organizations has become increasingly profound. No longer is Procurement considered a tactical arm of the enterprise whose key tasks are purchasing and brokering deals. We’ve entered a new era of category management where category managers are evolving as leaders and stakeholders are recognizing Procurement for the significant value it brings to the table.


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Recommended Webinar: What Makes Excellent Category Management Training

Training only delivers the expected return on investment if it drives the desired changes in outcomes and behaviors, and if training participants are able to improve their performance. However, many training programs fall short, and don’t achieve the desired results. Four key elements of effective training include:

  • Addressing the gap between the current and the ideal performance
  • Adding other elements such as tools and templates to close the gap
  • Designing and delivering geared to different learning styles, combining visual presentation with hands-on exercises
  • Setting clear objectives and evaluating how these objectives were met after the course



Continuing Education Hours

Denali Academy training is eligible for Continuing Education Hours (CEH) for any of ISM’s certification programs,such as CPSM or CPSD. It is also eligible to earn CPP points for the Society’s Certified Purchasing Professional program. Your certificate of completion can also count for 16 CEHs towards maintenance of your SPSM Certification from the Next Level Purchasing Association.

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Did You Know?

That most learners only retain about 15 percent of what they learn in a formal classroom training–unless it’s followed up by informal learning opportunities. That’s why Denali Academy’s blended-learning format for Category Management Foundation includes usable templates and a webinar about six weeks after the classroom experience to reinforce learnings. Click here to learn more about Denali Academy today!