Training and development of purchasing staff
The training and development of purchasing staff is one of the key strategies for the retention of scarce skills. For your purchasing staff to be able to deliver the potential benefits they must have sufficient skills and knowledge gained from both experience and specific courses.
In-house or External training
Some in-house training is essential to ensure an overall understanding of how purchasing works within your organization. Policies and procedures must be clearly understood and embedded in the day-to-day-operations. For larger teams, in-house training can be provided by external service providers that customize training courses specifically for your requirements. This approach works well for sourcing teams and for industries and public sector entities that have specific requirements.
There is no shortage of commercially driven fee-based service providers that can train in each and every competency from strategic sourcing to contracts management, some better than others. Research these carefully and take references. Understanding best practice often needs external intervention as the business environment is in constant flux and requirements change.
The training and development of purchasing staff should include providing opportunities to learn through universities and colleges that provide degrees and diplomas that are internationally recognized. These range from six-month introductory diplomas through to MBAs. Many are delivered through e-learning methods such as webinars, DVD, audio CD, and in the classroom and accessible to everyone and are especially recommended for new entrants to the profession.
Leading private institutes and associations within the purchasing and procurement profession have accredited courses covering core competencies and advanced purchasing skills. These are delivered through service providers and academies that have been vetted and accredited. Examples of these are Chartered Institute of Purchasing (CIPS) http://www.cips.org and Institute of Supply Management (ISM) http://www.ism.ws/.
Continued professional development
There are many resources available to keep up to date with developments in the profession. Hot topics of the moment are risk management and the related fraud and corruption challenges, sustainable procurement and "green" issues and developing small and medium suppliers. On-line journals such as Supply Management, Inside Supply Management etc brings you up to date.
Exchanging ideas and successes and learning from others' mistakes is useful too. Meeting with other professionals at events and conferences is a great way to learn about other areas within the purchasing environment. The training and development of purchasing staff can be made easier by the use of websites that specialize in disseminating pertinent information about trends in the profession and in the marketplace. Quality articles are freely available on-line on all the latest topics.