Bespoke Procurement Training

The challenge

An international bus and train operator approached Occumen to support them on a procurement transformation journey. The group had grown rapidly, largely through acquisition, and this, together with the group’s vertical organisation structure, meant that the procurement staff had disparate levels of procurement skills and experience and were not working together as a team. The organisation had reviewed the offerings from a number of specialist training companies, but concluded that an ‘off-the-shelf’ procurement training programme would not meet their needs.

The client was keen to ensure that skills and learning were permanently embedded in the organisation and asked us to develop and deliver a suite of training courses in category management to address the needs of all levels of current capability across the group. As a pre-cursor to the training, the client also asked us to review and improve their selected group-wide approach to category management and to develop tools and templates to be used by the procurement teams in their day-to-day work after completing the training.

The solution

Our first step was to undertake a review of the client’s existing category management process and to compare the agreed group-wide process to best practice. We also assessed how this process was being used in different regions. In reality, the group-wide process was being deployed in different ways in different markets with varying degrees of success. Based on our observations we suggested some amendments and additions and once these were agreed, developed the templates and tools required to deploy the revised process.

We worked closely with the client to understand the current levels of capability within the procurement team in order to focus the content and delivery at the right level and pace. The individuals to be trained came from 13 different markets and for the majority, English was not their first language. We developed three training courses to target three different procurement audiences, which were delivered by experienced procurement professionals with real-world experience:

Advanced Category Management: a one and a half day course for Heads of Procurement to provide a reminder of the key tools used in Category Management and to introduce the group-wide process.

Category Management: a detailed three day course aimed at Category Managers. The aim was to provide an overview of the benefits of Category Management and to train the participants in the application of tools and techniques through interactive case studies and real-life examples.

Foundation Category Management: this course was aimed at junior levels and those new to procurement to provide them with a better understanding of the process being used by their colleagues enabling them to provide better support to those colleagues. 

The benefits

The training and process development formed an integral part the procurement transformation programme which was taking place across the organisation.

Immediate benefits reported by the course participants and the organisation’s senior management included:

  • Development of a common language and community, forming strong foundations for the future
  • Adoption of a common process and approach making it easier to manage suppliers consistently across markets and generally improving the standard of category management
  • Increased understanding of the many sourcing levers that can be applied in addition to traditional techniques such as price negotiation
  • Appreciation that many teams – across different countries and business units - face similar problems, leading to increased co-operation across the group.

Subsequently the client engaged us to develop and facilitate further workshops focussed on Supplier Relationship Management, with workshops on specific topics such as dealing with monopoly suppliers. These were highly practical events, where the teams work on ‘live’ data, with the aim of developing real strategies and approaches during the workshop. 

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