Recruitment Excellence In The Procurement Technology Sector

Recruitment Excellence In The Procurement Technology Sector


Why A Quality Focus To Recruitment Makes A Difference

The Situation

One of our key clients is a rapidly growing Spend Management Company that is gaining market share because of the quality of both its product and its people.

It recognises that to attract the best talent and to retain its staff it has to give them exciting career paths, and needs to send a clear message to the market place so that talented individuals understand the opportunities they can provide.

They understand the value that we can bring by acting as their ‘ambassadors’ in the market and the value we add by both Talent Identification and also by how we present a consistent and compelling message about their business.

They have invested considerable time with us to jointly build the relationship so that we fully understand their business and the skills and attributes they require and the kinds of opportunities they offer. They recognise that they need an external partner who can sell their brand and position them well and not just source  CV’s. They need a business that really understands a very competitive candidate marketplace.

How Does This Approach Make A Difference?

For one Senior Consultant role we had two offers rejected – one was very aggressively counter offered by their current employer and the other candidate was offered £10k more basic salary elsewhere.

We realised that market conditions may have changed so we undertook some salary benchmarking research on their behalf.

It is easy and all too common for recruiters to drive salary increases and to claim that a client needs to raise their pay bands – we will always advise a client based on real data so that they can make an informed decision.

In this situation based on our research and a full open discussion with the client they reviewed and raised their basic salaries and with them we refined the message we took to the market – the role has now successfully been filled as a result.

Based on this success this approach was adopted further and we have since successfully filled a number of other roles and have candidates in reserve for future appointments such as:

  • Account Manager
  • Pre- Sales Director
  • Consultant
  • Senior Analyst

We are currently working on four more roles for this client

It is clearly a success story for us and the client. It proves that even when facing incredibly competitive market conditions because we work together and they trust our advice we have some superb recruitment success and have together driven and produced market leading KPI’s

  • Our interview to offer rate this year of 75%.
  • Our interview to appointment rate this year is 50%
  • Our interview to appointment rate since our client realigned their salary bands using our research is 80%

The Lesson Learnt?

If your organisation achieved these levels of performance in your recruitment process how much time and money would be saved?

Yes we usually cost more than those rates typically quoted on many PSL’s but our value and advice on key issues like process, salary, availability of relevant skills and market conditions makes a significant difference to the actual cost.

Equally our expertise is understood and recognised by candidates and this allows us to influence and persuade the best people to consider leaving their current jobs to join a new team when others may not. Detailed sector knowledge is critical, particularly in a job market like procurement technology.

Ultimately to save time and money and to add real value, you must invest time together with a business that knows the market. We seek to understand your recruitment challenges and give credible advice so that we can deliver candidates that fit your brief.

So ask yourself this, do you want a low price/high volume option for your recruitment or do you want value and a source of competitive advantage?

If it’s the latter, I look forward to hearing from you.


Q1 2014 Procurement Market Update & Indirect Spend Index

Q1 2014 Procurement Market Update & Indirect Spend Index

We’ve experienced a very positive start to year in terms of the recruitment market conditions for procurement professionals. Last year saw a marked improvement in the number of quality opportunities available in the market, with a particularly strong final quarter, and that increased demand has been sustained in the early months of 2014. Competition for the best procurement people remains fiercest in the middle market, experienced Category Managers in particular, but there is also healthy demand for emerging talent with strong academic backgrounds and a slight increase in the number of leadership roles. These are very encouraging signs for the profession and excellent news for those seeking to move roles in 2014. To view the Q1 indirect spend data and read the rest of our report please download the Procurement Quarterly Market Update Q1 2014

Q4 2013 Procurement Market Update & Indirect Spend Index

Q4 2013 Procurement Market Update & Indirect Spend Index

We started our quarterly reports on the job market for procurement professionals back in the tougher economic climate of 2009 and since then we have regularly reported gradual improvements in market conditions albeit with a few notable exceptions.

We are pleased to say that Q4 of 2013 has been a very positive period, and coming on the back of a strong third quarter, the second half of 2013 has showed the most notable improvement at any time since we started formally observing the trends. In fact in some areas there is now a genuine full blown battle for the best talent as we suggested in the Q3 report.  The key indicators of this are:

  • Strong candidates regularly have three or four good roles under consideration at any time, particularly in the most popular areas of indirect spend (data to follow) such as marketing and technology.
  • Significantly increased evidence of companies using recruitment suppliers outside of the preferred supplier list.
  • There is also less reliance on outsourced or in house recruitment teams for procurement roles that are difficult to recruit for because of the need for specialist market knowledge in a competitive market.

To view the Q4 indirect spend data and read the rest of the report please download the Procurement Quarterly Market Update & Indirect Spend Index Q4 2013

Q2 2013 Procurement Market Update & Indirect Spend Index

Q2 2013 Procurement Market Update & Indirect Spend Index

Q2 generally showed an improvement in market conditions after what was a relatively slow start to the year in some sectors.  As anticipated we’ve seen strong activity in several key areas including:

  • Indirect spend across the private sector
  • Direct spend in FMCG, Pharmaceuticals & Technology
  • Spend Management providers
  • Procurement Consulting

In this quarters review we look at each area of market individually:

The edburydaley Indirect Spend Index 2013

Our Indirect Spend Index which was launched earlier this year provides some interesting data on the demand for category expertise in the various areas of indirect spend across the private sector.

In our Q1 report we observed that the three areas in most demand were technology, marketing and FM.  The Q2 data shows that technology is now the clear leader with 41% whilst marketing remains in a strong second place on 18% with the rest in single figures.

To view the Q2 data and the rest of the report please download the full Procurement Quarterly Market Update & Indirect Spend Index Q2 2013


Procurement Talent – The Importance Of Recruitment And Retention

Procurement Talent – The Importance Of Recruitment And Retention

The IBM CPO Study – A Recruiters Perspective

The latest Chief Procurement Officer Study by IBM Global Business Services is another excellent piece of research which covers some critical topics.  As specialist recruiters to the procurement profession one subject stands out and that is the need to attract the best available talent into your team or as IBM put it “Above all, top performers know the value of great people.”

At the start of the study the authors highlight “three key points of differentiation that separate high-performing procurement organisations from the pack.”  They are Capability, Influence and Innovation and in our opinion excellence in these areas comes from the quality of your people throughout the function.

At edburydaley we have always strongly believed that a key attribute for any functional leader is the ability to attract top talent.  Indeed many of our best clients ask us to source candidates who will be strong enough to push the hiring manager, and help create a culture of striving for excellence in key areas.

There are of course obvious benefits to this in terms of succession planning, and from our perspective it gives us licence to pursue the best available people in the market for opportunities in leading procurement functions with strong leadership.

The data shows that the CPO’s that IBM define as “Top Performers” place considerably greater emphasis on recruiting, retaining and developing talent than the sample average and this is magnified when compared with those defined as “Emerging Performers.”  For example 83% of top performers consider developing talent to be a strength compared to 38% of emerging performers.  Furthermore 81% of top performers believe recruitment is an investment priority compared to 35% of emerging performers.

The report mentions one CPO who “initiated a recruiting program that focuses on attracting top graduates from the most elite institutions in the world. As process standardisation, procurement automation and corporate compliance increased, this CPO found that higher-order skills were needed from his staff to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding business.”

The report goes on to say that in this case “top talent has become an essential ingredient of procurement success at this company, and the intense focus on talent among procurement top performers suggests that this trend may well continue.”

Whilst we agree that the trend for identifying and competing for the best available talent will continue, we would argue that formal programmes for procurement to attract the best graduates straight from leading Universities remain very rare. In fact the CPO mentioned is one of a relatively small group who have taken it upon themselves to formally invest in this area.

Iain Stewart, founding Director of 105 Consulting, works with some of world’s leading CPO’s on learning and development programmes for their highest achievers and he believes that “a huge opportunity exists for companies who are serious about recruiting and retaining the very best  talent to precisely define the competencies and behaviours needed from both high-performing individuals and teams.   This then enables them to baseline their existing people and new recruits, and relentlessly invest in developing these people to a level of full competence.”

Iain adds that “in parallel they should be developing, perfecting, and rolling-out world-class processes and systems for these people to apply if they are to truly achieve results comparable with the highest performing functions.  This includes excellence in key competencies and behaviours like stakeholder engagement, deep knowledge of supply markets, and the high-quality collection, analysis and use of data.”

“The ideal scenario is to create a virtuous circle whereby companies who follow this menu and install good recruitment, reward, retention and progression programmes stand an above-average chance of both delivering outstanding results and  attracting and retaining outstanding people.”

Of course one concern is that by recruiting outstanding people early in their careers and equipping them with a broad tool kit of procurement skills, there is a strong likelihood that those people will be targeted by head hunters working on behalf of organisations seeking to attract the best available talent themselves.  This only emphasises the need to develop an effective retention strategy and generate a strong sense of loyalty in high achievers, which is a point emphasised in IBM’s research.

At edburydaley we believe that an effective specialist recruiter should know exactly where the best emerging talent is being developed, and we frequently use that knowledge to the benefit of our clients when sourcing potential candidates.  We consistently target the leading procurement functions and track the career progression of their best people as part of our ongoing talent identification initiative.

In addition to the typical recruitment services of Contingency, Executive Search and Interim Management, we offer a formal Talent Mapping service and have also developed an effective range of techniques that can be used to build a Talent Pipeline.

The full report including the data is available here: IBM Chief Procurement Officer Study

Andrew Daley is a Director of a niche executive recruitment consultancy specialising in Procurement, SRM, Consultancy and Spend Management.  He is also the author of the Quarterly Procurement Market Update and The edburydaley Indirect Spend Index.


If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this article Andrew can be contacted on 0161 300 7978 or via