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Mastering the Soft Skills Every Procurement Professional Needs to Succeed

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27 days ago

by Wis Amarasinghe

Mastering the Soft Skills Every Procurement Professional Needs to Succeed

Mastering the Soft Skills Every Procurement Professional Needs to Succeed

In the dynamic world of procurement, technical knowledge and expertise are essential, but soft skills are equally crucial for success. These interpersonal and communication skills enable procurement professionals to build strong relationships, negotiate effectively, and manage complex projects. 

1. Effective Communication

Effective communication is at the heart of successful procurement. It involves not only conveying ideas clearly but also listening actively and responding thoughtfully.


Unilever’s procurement team places a strong emphasis on effective communication. By fostering clear and open communication channels with suppliers, Unilever ensures that all parties are aligned and working towards common goals. According to the Financial Times, this approach has helped Unilever secure better terms and build strong supplier relationships.

Action Plan

Training: Enrol in communication skills courses, such as "Effective Communication: Writing, Design, and Presentation" offered by edX.

Practice: Engage in regular feedback sessions with colleagues and suppliers to improve clarity and understanding.

Mentorship: Seek mentorship from experienced professionals to learn advanced communication techniques.

2. Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is a critical skill for procurement professionals, enabling them to secure the best deals and build mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers.

General Electric (GE)

GE’s procurement teams are renowned for their negotiation prowess. By thoroughly researching market conditions and understanding supplier constraints, GE consistently negotiates favourable terms. A study by Harvard Business Review highlighted GE’s ability to achieve significant cost savings through strategic negotiations.

Action Plan

Training: Take negotiation courses, such as "Negotiation Mastery" from Harvard Business School Online.

Simulation: Participate in negotiation simulations and role-playing exercises to hone your skills.

Reflection: After each negotiation, reflect on what worked well and areas for improvement.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) involves understanding and managing your own emotions, as well as empathising with others. It is crucial for building strong relationships and managing conflicts.


Microsoft incorporates emotional intelligence into its procurement processes. By training their teams in EI, Microsoft ensures that procurement professionals can navigate complex interpersonal dynamics effectively. According to McKinsey & Company, this approach has led to more collaborative and successful negotiations.

Action Plan

Training: Enrol in courses on emotional intelligence, such as "Emotional Intelligence in Leadership" offered by edX.

Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness techniques to enhance self-awareness and emotional regulation.

Feedback: Seek regular feedback on your emotional responses and work on areas needing improvement.

4. Problem-Solving Skills

Procurement professionals often face unexpected challenges and must be adept at finding innovative solutions to problems.

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

P&G’s procurement team is known for its problem-solving capabilities. During a supply chain disruption, P&G collaborated with suppliers to develop alternative sourcing strategies, ensuring continuity of supply. The Journal of Business Logistics noted that this proactive approach minimised disruptions and maintained product availability.

Action Plan:

Training: Take problem-solving and critical thinking courses, such as "Creative Problem Solving" on Coursera.

Collaboration: Work in cross-functional teams to gain diverse perspectives on problem-solving.

Analysis: Regularly review case studies and real-world scenarios to develop your problem-solving skills.

5. Adaptability

The procurement landscape is constantly changing, requiring professionals to be adaptable and open to new approaches.


Amazon’s procurement team exemplifies adaptability. By leveraging data analytics and flexible supply chain strategies, Amazon quickly responds to market changes and consumer demand fluctuations. The Wall Street Journal reported that this adaptability has been key to Amazon’s supply chain resilience.

Action Plan

Training: Enrol in courses on change management, such as "Change Management: Design and Implementation" on LinkedIn Learning.

Exposure: Seek opportunities to work on different projects and with various teams to build versatility.

Feedback: Embrace feedback and continuously look for ways to improve and adapt your strategies.

6. Collaboration and Teamwork

Collaboration and teamwork are essential for coordinating with various stakeholders and ensuring successful procurement outcomes.


Toyota’s procurement strategy is built on strong collaboration with suppliers. By fostering a culture of teamwork, Toyota has developed efficient and resilient supply chains. Forbes reported that this collaborative approach has been instrumental in Toyota’s success.

Action Plan

Training: Take courses on teamwork and collaboration, such as "Collaboration and Emotional Intelligence" on LinkedIn Learning.

Participation: Actively participate in team projects and initiatives to build collaborative skills.

Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from team members and strive to improve your collaborative efforts.

Developing essential soft skills is vital for procurement professionals aiming to excel in their careers. By focusing on effective communication, negotiation, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, adaptability, and collaboration, procurement professionals can enhance their performance and build stronger relationships with suppliers and stakeholders. Implementing the action plans and participating in relevant training courses will ensure continuous growth and success in the dynamic field of procurement.

#CareerDevelopment #SoftSkills #ProcurementCareers #ProfessionalGrowth #BusinessSuccess

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