Recruitment and development of procurement teams through the eyes of Big Fish (Polish market in 2022/2023)

Recruitment and development of procurement teams through the eyes of Big Fish (Polish market in 2022/2023) | Big Fish Sp. z o.o.

Recruitment and development of procurement teams through the eyes of Big Fish (Polish market in 2022/2023)

From our observations, crises do favor procurement when it comes to recognizing their role in the organization. However, as reported by Garner's "Future of Supply Chain survey", it is difficult to talk about a longer and more sustainable trend here. The strategic role of procurement was "discovered" during the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, supply chain difficulties are treated as the new norm. Nevertheless, the job market is still an employee market, and for now, it doesn't seem to be changing.

    Last year was quite interesting for procurement experts. They certainly couldn't complain about boredom.   


    From our observations, crises do favor procurement when it comes to recognizing their role in the organization. However, as reported by Garner's "Future of Supply Chain survey", it is difficult to talk about a longer and more sustainable trend here. The strategic role of procurement was "discovered" during the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, supply chain difficulties are treated as the new norm. Nevertheless, the job market is still an employee market, and for now, it doesn't seem to be changing.  


    ·        The market is starting to appreciate procurement experts.  


    During the pandemic, salaries in procurement in Poland have been consistently increasing. Unfortunately, high inflation has negated the real growth. Salaries have not kept up with it. According to the Polish Central Statistical Office, inflation was at 17.9% (October) at the end of last year.  


    The biggest salary increases were observed in HR - 11.5%, supply chain - 10.5%, and IT - 10% (Business Services sector - services for business). One could say that employees in these professions were least affected by inflation.  


    Monthly salaries in procurement, depending on the position, ranged from gross 9,000 PLN (buyer in an international/global company) to over 55,000 PLN gross (CPO - "Chief Procurement Officer"/Director of Purchasing/Global Procurement Head in a global company). Details are provided below.  


     Position: Operational Buyer - 9 000 -12 000 PLN gross/ month  


    Comment: For positions in global organizations salaries may differ depending on knowledge of additional foreign languages (besides English) and level of experience.  


    An operational buyer is a person who deals with the P2P (procure to pay) process  


     Position: Sourcing Specialist - 14 000-16 000 PLN gross/ month  


    Comment: Candidates for these positions are responsible for the S2C (source to contract) process.  


    Position: Project Buyer - 10.000-16.000 PLN gross/ month  


    Comment:A person employed in this position makes project purchases - responsible for the S2C (source to contract) process.  


    Position: Category Manager/Category Leader - 17. 000-30 .000 PLN gross/ month  


    Comment:The category manager/leader is responsible for defining and implementing strategies for a selected purchasing category, as well as for an element of the S2C (source to contract) process.  


    Position: Purchasing Manager/Team Leader - 20.000-30.000 PLN gross/ month  


    Comment: The salary level is also influenced by the size of the team and whether the team is local, regional or global.  


    Position: Director of Purchasing/CPO - 28.000-55.000 PLN gross/ month  


    Comment: The salary level is also influenced by the size of the team and whether the team is local, regional or global.  


    *Data from recruitment projects conducted by Big Fish and information from salary reports of the largest recruitment agencies. The salary level depends on the scope of the position (local, regional, global), years of experience, and the location of the employer.  


    More and more companies are locating their shared service centers or business services centers (also known as BSS, SSC, GBS, "centers of excellence") in Poland, which also means regional or global purchasing centers. According to Deloitte Poland, it is one of the top preferred locations for Shared Service Centers*. In 2022, there were 1600 such centers (which accounts for about 70% of all BSS centers in Central and Eastern Europe), and forecasts show that their number will continue to grow.  


    Procurement in business centers is not just about operational activities. More and more roles related to strategic category management can be observed in Poland. Such positions are available in large cities, with Krakow and Warsaw being in the lead. As the Deloitte report "Global CPO survey 10-year lookback" shows, since 2013, expectations for "managed services" have increased, shifting towards strategic planning and supplier relationship management. Of course, many central procurement organizations are still in development. Newly hired individuals must deal with many challenges related to working in such companies, such as internal customer reluctance to collaborate, limited availability of reliable data, different operating systems, low coverage in contracts, etc. Sometimes, there is also a lack of good processes and tools supporting procurement work. If an organization develops through acquisition, it further enhances these factors. At the same time, if the organization's culture is supportive, working in such an organization and the opportunity to co-create it can provide a great professional satisfaction."  


    ·        What competencies are essential/ what competencies to develop?  


    The years 2019-2022 can be confidently called the VUCA* years in their purest form. We witnessed phenomena such as Covid19, and the war in Ukraine, which had a significant impact on business, especially on supply chain performance. Many procurement experts decided to change their career paths and look for other opportunities beyond procurement. We also observed a greater "outflow" of talents from industries particularly vulnerable to anomalies in the supply chain (e.g., automotive). "New times" require new competencies to meet daily professional challenges.  


    In my book "Leadership in the VUCA world. How to be an effective leader in an uncertain environment," I proposed over 70 social competencies with descriptions that are useful in efficient functioning and coping with VUCA. The top 5 of them include: dealing with uncertainty, composure, ease of learning, sense of urgency, courage.  


    Professional skills - closely related to procurement work (depending on the position level) include: data analysis, procurement category management, risk management, internal customer focus, supplier relationship management, business acumen, strategic sourcing, negotiation, knowledge of the purchasing process, procurement project management, contract management, supplier evaluation, knowledge of the supplier market, knowledge of procurement technology, value engineering.   


    The most frequently required skills in job advertisements for procurement roles without a team ("direct/indirect") include: experience in similar positions, experience in managing specific purchasing categories/knowledge of supplier market (for positions such as category manager/leader, category buyer, strategic buyer), experience in managing purchasing projects, higher education, contract management skills, communication skills, time management (planning, work organization, setting priorities), negotiation skills, analytical skills, relationship building skills, fluent English, experience in working in an international environment (ability to effectively communicate with representatives of different cultures)/for positions with a global scope.  


    For procurement roles with a team ("direct/indirect"): several years of experience in a similar position, experience in creating and implementing a purchasing strategy, experience in managing strategic relationships, established experience in team management, decision-making and problem-solving skills, high negotiation and leadership skills, higher education, experience in managing a dispersed, international team (for regional/global positions), fluent English.  


    According to The Hackett Group's Digital Skills Poll report, only 17% of procurement managers believe that their teams have adequate skills to meet future business needs. Respondents to the survey indicated that there is increased demand for the following skills over the next 2 years: service design, technological skills, agility and change orientation, and data analysis and modeling skills.  


    ·        Increasing awareness of companies - development of purchasing competencies.  


    In recent years, there has been an increase in companies' awareness of the development of competencies in procurement departments, as well as an increase in awareness of the low availability of talent in the market. More and more companies are using procurement training, not only related to improving negotiation skills. The teams are increasingly being trained in category management (and participants in these programs are prepared for strategic roles), procurement project management, SRM, and Stakeholders management. The more developed the training organization is, the more ambitious development programs are offered to procurement department employees. There is also an increasing awareness of the training needs of procurement leaders. However, there is still a lack of long-term training strategies closely related to the overall organization's strategy and the implementation of broader development programs combined with talent and succession plans. There is also a lack of detailed planning of training and development programs tailored to the level of a particular group of procurement department employees. As a result, there is increased interest in open training programs in December - when the training budget needs to be used. It turns out that all employees are trained with the same program, which does not always contribute to increasing competencies and sometimes causes justified frustration. I am referring, for example, to negotiation training for all employees, from strategic buyers and category leaders, who already have the basic negotiation skills.  


    ·        Job descriptions - a common mess  


    Job titles do not always reflect the actual state of affairs, and job descriptions and responsibilities often do not match either. It happens that it is difficult to distinguish between operational, tactical, and strategic purchases. Job titles can be too advanced, and a responsible role is not always hidden behind them. Another issue is that candidates mainly apply considering the job title, and they do not always familiarize themselves with the scope and expectations in detail. The descriptions either contain too much information that is not relevant or too little crucial information.  


    Under the job title of buyer, we can expect the whole spectrum of procurement roles: from exclusively the procure-to-pay process (buyer and operational) through tactical purchases and sourcing to strategic category management in a global context. It all depends on how the purchasing department's structure is organized.  


    At Big Fish, when working with clients, we place great emphasis on identifying their needs. We collect information about: the level of advancement of their procurement organization, the organization's strategic goals and their reflection in the current procurement strategy, details of a given role, i.e., scope of action and candidate influence (local/regional/global), tasks, main goals and priorities, main categories (including annual expenditure levels, category type according to the Kraljic matrix, the number of suppliers, market realities, and real impact on shaping category strategies) or projects they will manage, supplier bases - risks, and associated challenges, SRM programs, cooperation with internal customers - challenges, goals, tools, or systems used in the given organization, and what is very important - the quality of procurement data. Thanks to this information, we know which candidates to interest in a given role and under what angle to evaluate their competences.  


    We often advise our clients on changing job titles or their descriptions. Unfortunately, job descriptions are not always updated and discussed with hiring managers. An outdated and inadequate job description leads to recruitment errors and can cause the process to be excessively prolonged.  


    ·        Global perspective - what keeps CPO's up at night?  


    Analyzing reports carried out by global consulting firms based on surveys conducted among CPOs, we can conclude that among the most important issues that are important to them are:  


    ► talent management - 44% of respondents (E&Y) indicate a problem with effective recruitment of talents to procurement teams. The most important competencies sought by respondents are: basic professional skills related to the procurement process, but not to the strategic role of procurement (39% of respondents), skills related to stakeholder relationship management (27% of respondents), knowledge of the supplier market (16% of respondents). Other important competencies indicated in the GEP report are: data analysis (47%), negotiation skills (42%), flexibility and adaptability (42%), IT skills (40%), knowledge of regulations and compliance (39%), communication and interpersonal skills (38%), leadership (36%).  


    There is also a greater than usual fluctuation and continuation of a career outside the procurement area. The development of procurement team skills seems to be a problem - 40% of respondents (E&Y) admit that they do not use the budget to develop competencies of purchasing teams.  


    Generating savings is still indicated as one of the top 3 priorities (E&Y).  


    Meanwhile, mitigating the effects of inflation is a priority for 32% of respondents (GEP).  


    ► Digitalization - two-thirds of the surveyed organizations invest in digitalization to better adapt to changing conditions in the supply chain (E&Y).  


    ► Supporting sustainable development - 2/3 of surveyed organizations (E&Y) claim to have a defined sustainable development plan, but over half have no goals associated with it. Three-quarters of respondents plan significant investments in this area.  


    ► Managing relationships with suppliers, including risk management (the main risks indicated by respondents are: financial risks associated with supplier consolidation and/or bankruptcy, risk of increased prices due to increased logistics and raw material costs and decreased productivity, extended lead times due to raw material shortages, risk associated with sustainable development). 81% of respondents have included plans to reduce the impact of risk in their sourcing plans.  


    ► Managing change - 39% of respondents (GEP) reported problems in this area.  








    VUCA - The term VUCA originated in the 1990s in the U.S. Army War College to describe the situation that arose after the end of the Cold War. The term VUCA described the reality at the time, in which leaders had to make decisions characterized by:  


    V - Volatility - volatility  


    U - Uncertainty - uncertainty  


    C - Complexity - complexity  


    A - Ambiguity - ambiguity.  




    Like many terms borrowed from the military, VUCA has also been adapted to the business world. It gained wider use in the first half of the 21st century, particularly after the attack on the WTC. VUCA has since experienced a renaissance both in military concepts and in concepts of strategic leadership, which have applications in many organizations, ranging from profit-oriented corporations to educational organizations.  






     Deloitte - Polska w czołówce preferowanych lokalizacji dla Centrów Usług Wspólnych -  


    Sektor usług dla biznesu 2022: wzrost zatrudnienia, wyższe płace, nowe lokalizacje  



    Jak wygląda sektor SSC i BPO w Polsce?  



    „Przywództwo w świecie VUCA. Jak być skutecznym liderem w niepewnym środowisku”, Agnieszka Piątkowska,podevu.htm#format/d  


    Is procurement's rising profile following disruption 'just a blip'? -  


     Procurement 2025: Equipping a multigenerational workforce with the skills for success in a digital environment – The Hackett Group  


    Reskilling – wielki reset umiejętności. Czy jesteśmy gotowi -  


    2022 Global EY Chief Procurement Officer Survey Procurement in a post-pandemic world  


    CPO Study 2022 - GEP  


    Global CPO survey 10-year lookback - Deloitte  


    PwC Global Digital Procurement Survey  




    Autor: Agnieszka Piątkowska (Partner Big Fish Polska)