Accenture Pan-European Survey Shows Companies Face Skill Shortages in Procurement

78 Percent of Companies Surveyed Say they Lack Highly Qualified Procurement Personnel

BERLIN; Oct. 8, 2002 European companies are increasingly confronted with skills shortages in their procurement departments, according to an Accenture Pan-European survey of more than 120 procurement directors released today.

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents said they lack highly qualified procurement personnel, and more than two-thirds said that it was either difficult or very difficult to recruit senior buyers for their procurement departments.

To complicate matters, globalization, competition and an increase in mergers and acquisitions in Europe are putting pressure on procurement professionals to identify and exploit efficiencies in the purchasing process. The increased complexity of the procurement manager’s job is mirrored in the wide range of competencies that companies now expect from their procurement personnel.

For instance, when asked to rank the competencies of their senior buyers that are most critical to helping the companies achieve their procurement objectives, respondents ranked “communication and teamwork,” “integrity and ethics” and “supplier negotiations” as the three most important.

“The fact that respondents gave these competencies the same importance demonstrates Accenture’s belief that procurement professionals must be more than just skilled negotiators,” said Richard Laub, a partner in Accenture’s Supply Chain Management practice.

Although technology developments in areas such e-procurement and e-sourcing have helped companies support their procurement departments, Accenture’s survey findings indicate that there is mounting evidence that this one-dimensional approach to procurement cannot be expected to bring about significant positive returns.

“Executives must revisit their traditional focus on one-off systems or strategic sourcing initiatives and make sure that they attract and retain the most-qualified people and develop their skills over time,” added Richard Laub.

Based on the survey findings, Accenture has identified a select group of “procurement performance leaders” — companies that excel in both attracting and retaining top talent. These procurement performance leaders offer their employees rewarding career paths, extensive training and competitive compensation based on results achieved.

Each procurement performance leader has implemented similar key practices to attract talent. For instance, all of the top-performing companies provide training based on individual competency and skills gaps, whereas only 67 percent of the remaining companies do so.

These leading companies have also adopted practices that put this highly skilled talent to good use. Nearly two-thirds allow buyers to allocate the majority of their time to strategic activities, relieving them of administrative tasks that ultimately have little or no impact on company performance.

Procurement performance leaders also forge stronger ties between their procurement departments and senior-executive-level functions. Seventy-one percent of top-performing companies recognize the strategic importance of the procurement function, compared with only 28 percent of the remaining companies. Moreover, procurement directors are members of the executive leadership teams in 71 percent of top-performing companies, but in only 36 percent in the remaining companies.

“These findings underscore the strategic importance of not only the procurement function, but also of each employee who works within it,” said Stephan Haupt, a partner in Accenture’s Supply Chain Management practice. “Companies determined to achieve superior procurement performance must view their pool of buyers as one of the company’s key strategic assets.”

Between April and July 2002, Accenture interviewed procurement directors with operational responsibility in 126 companies across Europe: Italy (30), Germany (29), France (24), UK (17), Spain (7), Scandinavia (7), The Netherlands (7), and Belgium (5). To achieve a balanced view of the marketplace respondents were divided among industrial (60%), retail (7%), and service (33%) companies. Each company surveyed reported 2001 global revenues in excess of €1 billion.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach -- in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities -- Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With approximately 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is


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