Public procurement workforces are shrinking, but help is on the way
Overall, the purchasing manager workforce in the U.S. is expanding, say analysts at Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), a CareerBuilder company. The total number of purchasing managers in the U.S. will rise from 76,045 in 2016 to 79,891 in 2022, an increase of 3,846, or almost 5.1 percent.
Governments, however, are reducing their purchasing manager staffs. Local governments, excluding education and hospitals, will employ 1,794 purchasing managers in 2022, a 2.4 percent drop (45 managers) from 2016 hiring levels. In 2016, local governments had 1,839 purchasing managers on their payrolls.
EMSI is a Moscow, Idaho-based labor market data research firm that uses data from all state labor departments as well as federal agencies in its calculations.
Bryan Eaves, a partner at Knoxville, Tenn.-based Sourcing Business Solutions, believes that public procurement workforces are stretched thin in 2017-18. “While unemployment rates are low, which is positive news for each state’s tax revenues, public procurement employees continue to be tasked to handle more work. It is the same productivity expectation that exists in the private sector.”
Eaves (photo at right) is a CPA who worked in private sector procurement for 15 years. He is also a Certified Professional in Supply Management and a Certified Purchasing Manager. His firm provides consulting services in procurement and cost-reduction.
The company has over 20 years of experience in financial, operations, and supply chain excellence. The firm conducts on-site training on procurement negotiations, RFP (Request for Proposal) creation and execution, as well as other topics. The company partners with various organizations to optimize buying, processes and technology solutions.
Software and other technology improvements will have a bearing on future procurement workforce recruiting, Eaves predicts. The software will help guide professionals through various steps in the buying process. “This technology will speed up processes and enhance procurement efficiency and will shrink the total number of procurement professionals demanded [for public or non-government organizations],” Eaves tells GPN.
Governments and other organizations are recruiting quality candidates for purchasing roles, Eaves believes. “The supply chain and procurement profession is already attracting top talent and top starting salaries, which bodes well for the future of the profession.” Down the road, Eaves predicts the profession will have an abundance of talent: “The procurement workforce of the future will include well-rounded business or technical individuals with advanced degrees. Those staffers will be adept at business analytics.”
Eaves says tools such as cooperative purchasing can help procurement managers overcome lean staffing challenges in their departments. “Cooperative buys do tend to leverage large contracts and enable procurement employees to be stretched for additional work activities.” He adds that cooperative procurement arrangements “typically offer both savings and management oversight to some degree over suppliers involved.”
Eaves tells GPN that cloud-based procurement technologies can boost efficiencies in cooperative buys and other public procurement processes. “E-Procurement solutions in the cloud can boost productivity throughout an agency’s procure-to-pay processes. These solutions allow for e-forms and other technology-driven processes to reduce paperwork and transfer the data entry from internal staffs to end-users.”
Uniformity is key to maximize efficiencies, says Eaves. He advises managers to create templates and automated tools in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint or Word that saves staff time. “Everyone should be using the same procurement and sourcing processes so the more processes that are automated, the more productive employees will be.”
Michael Keating is senior editor for American City & County and the GPN web site. Contact: [email protected]