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Procurement’s Talent Shortage: How to Continuously Motivate High-Performing Teams

Anyone who follows the news has seen the headlines about the exodus of workers from many industries dubbed as “The Great Resignation.” In September 2021 alone, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs — a full 3% of the total workforce. While analysts suspect that many workers simply changed jobs, US labor statistics indicate a substantial percentage of the resigners are actually retiring — 2 million more than predicted. A recent Gartner Survey showed how these trends impact procurement:

  • 24% of procurement and supply chain professionals surveyed are actively looking for a new job
  • Only 50% of procurement and supply chain professionals under 40 have high intent to remain in their current job role
  • CPO Surveys in 2019, 2020, 2021 identified finding qualified talent as the single largest gap in the achievement of strategic procurement initiatives

Procurement was already struggling with a talent shortage before the pandemic. With the additional challenges and stress caused by endless supply chain and logistics issues, new procurement roles are being created. Organizations are struggling to fill new roles and to retain and motivate the top talent they already have.


Procurement’s Talent Shortage Can Create Death Spirals

One of the most important “P”s in predictive procurement is people. And that’s a growing problem for many companies. In pre-pandemic days, it was already becoming difficult to recruit top procurement talent. A 2019 Deloitte post on the topic estimated that at that time, there would typically be just one qualified candidate for every six procurement-related job openings. Since 2020, the situation has worsened.

In a recent report, DHL—the international courier and logistics giant—summed up the issue of supply chain demand outstripping the supply of talent:

“Supply chain managers across the globe are struggling with a critical supply-and-demand imbalance. But it’s not for a specific product, commodity, or even for transportation capacity. It’s for people. Demand for supply chain talent is at an all-time high, as more and more companies have recognized how important supply chain management is to their success. But even though more people are earning supply chain management degrees and certifications each year, it hasn’t been enough to fill current needs.”

The situation is getting so bad that it’s not just causing headaches in procurement functions. It’s threatening to impact the ability of companies to meet the demand for their products and services.

This situation can create tinder that ignites a so-called “death spiral” — one high performer feels underpaid and overworked and so leaves for a better job. Studies by McKinsey across 6,000 individual contributors show that high-performers are often 400% more productive than average performers, and in complex, technical or analytical roles they can be 800% more productive. When one high-performer leaves, it naturally increases the workload for the rest of the team — sometimes dramatically. If an employee’s workload and responsibilities increases without any increase in pay, this can create dissatisfaction that precipitates additional departures, escalating the “spiral”. In a short period of time, the team dynamics that enabled peak performance have evaporated entirely.

As a CPO or key stakeholder of a company, how do you ensure you can attract and—more importantly—keep and motivate a high-performing procurement team?


Identifying Top Talent Internally

In the current procurement job environment, keeping your team happy and motivated is paramount. That goes for everyone on the team, but especially the top performers. To do so, you must be able to distinguish the low, medium, and high performers on the team. From there, you can pursue incentives like greater accountability, having a voice in setting goals, involvement in more projects, participation in strategic initiatives, and financial incentives.

Having and managing a high-performing procurement team is one thing, but how do you identify your top talent? How do you prevent underperforming staff from going along for the ride and taking credit for successes that they had little involvement in? According to a recent study by Modis of 1,000 hiring managers, top performers ranked these aspects of their jobs as most important:

  1. Opportunity for career advancement
  2. Competitive salaries & raises
  3. Ability to create change or have a voice within the company
  4. Ability to innovate and create new products, projects or ideas

“Opportunity for career advancement” requires recognizing and rewarding tangible achievement based on objective metrics. The key is visibility. A big part of this is defining units of work, tracking projects in a pipeline using Key Performance Indicator (KPIs), and even recognizing employee achievement via leaderboards that show individual progress toward goals in real-time. By using basic game-ification approaches to tracking and visualizing employee achievement, delivering the right recognition to your high performers can become a pleasurable and rewarding aspect of team culture. These are the fundamental building blocks of a successful Predictive Procurement Orchestration (PPO) program within your procurement organization.


Challenges in Implementing Predictive Procurement Orchestration (PPO)

For goals and the leaderboards to work in motivating the team, there has to be buy-in. That’s harder than it sounds, especially for procurement organizations that still rely on manual processes. Organizations need to implement predictive procurement orchestration. Why? There are three core goals aligned with tracking, recognizing and rewarding high-performers:


  1. Predict — Using prediction allows you to set realistic goals that team members will buy into and feel motivated to accomplish because they understand the data behind them and feel like they are numbers they have the power and agency to impact.


  1. Prioritize — Using clear real-time data about business impact enables your team to prioritize (or de-prioritize) tasks based on strategic objectives, giving them more autonomy over the workflow and a greater degree of control over work-life balance.


  1. Produce — Using a scoring and points system to assess performance based on clear achievements can motivate your team to take ownership of procurement wins.


The problem here is that predictive procurement is not easy to implement using spreadsheets and email. Many companies are still relying on manual analysis to track and report Cost Savings, Cost Avoidance, Cycle Time, Time-to-Settle, Purchase Price Variance, Supplier Diversity, Metric Tonnes of Carbon Reduced and Procurement NPS. This is incredibly time-consuming — and makes performance management a burdensome extra workload instead of a strategic talent motivation weapon. Too often, silos created from outdated systems and processes hampers true collaboration.


Using Arkestro to Motivate High-Performing Procurement Teams

Today the growing competition for high-performing procurement professionals is driven by demand that far outstrips supply. That makes it difficult to hire new staff and more important than ever to retain existing talent—especially the high-performing talent. However, implementing a simple and effective framework that will motivate your procurement teams to track, report, recognize, and reward high-performers who crave clarity around “access to career opportunities” isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when manual spreadsheet-driven processes are involved.

So how do you implement a framework that will provide transparency and motivate high-performing procurement teams? The solution is Arkestro.

Arkestro is an automated predictive procurement platform with centralized data, AI-powered analysis, and cross-team collaboration support that provides the necessary foundation. With Arkestro, teams can collaboratively set realistic targets for Cost Savings, Cost Avoidance, Cycle Time and even Average Competitiveness at the category level. In addition, Arkestro offers leaderboards that track important KPIs in real-time. This provides visibility, which adds accountability, an incentive for individuals to perform better (especially when working remotely), and the ability to offer merit-based rewards like micro-bonuses.

In addition, implementing Arkestro will help to attract high-level new talent to your organization. A solution that incorporates AI and other advanced technology promoting less manual work is always attractive for high-performers who want to be working with state-of-the-art data science tooling. Book a free demo today to see how Arkestro will help you retain your top procurement talent while attracting the best professionals seeking new opportunities in the field.

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Rob DeSantis


As a former co-founder of Ariba running sales, Rob has deep expertise in the procurement space, having helped propel Ariba from zero to $250 million in revenue in four years and IPO of the year in 1999 before its acquisition by SAP a decade later. In addition to co-founding Ariba, Rob was also an early angel investor and board member of LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network.

More recently, Rob served as an investor and advisor to a small portfolio of companies including Bloom Energy, AEye, Inc., HiQ Labs, Agiloft, USEND and more. He is also a co-founder of Dibbs Technology and TrueParity. Rob holds a BSME from the University of Rhode Island.

Marty Meyer

Chief Financial Officer

A trusted partner and advisor on the executive team, Marty has a unique background having been the CFO of nine venture backed technology companies. Marty has raised over $300M in venture funding and has closed six strategic M&A transactions with a combined value of over $1B. Marty has deep domain expertise in ecommerce, consumer internet, networking, data security, data privacy, media technology and enterprise software industries. Marty is especially experienced in the finance and operations activities of SaaS companies and is driven by data and metrics to help create outstanding customer experiences and drive efficient growth.

Neil Lustig

President and Chief Operating Officer

Neil is a seasoned executive with over 30 years of experience leading and building teams in Tech. Neil brings insights from a variety of market spaces and company sizes. Most recently Neil was the CEO of GAN Integrity, an innovative SaaS Compliance technology company serving enterprise customers in North America and Europe. Before that Neil was the CEO of Sailthru, a leader in ML driven personalized multi-channel marketing communications for media and e-commerce markets. Prior to that Neil was the CEO of Vendavo, the leader in B2B price optimization and management for large enterprises. Before Vendavo, Neil led the commercial team at Ariba, the market pioneer that defined and created the eProcurement space. Neil served as the GM of Ariba Europe and subsequently the GM of Ariba North America. Neil started his career at IBM where he spent sixteen years, initially as a software developer, and then twelve years in a variety of Sales and Marketing roles


Neil has a BS in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from SUNY Albany. He is a native New Yorker, Brooklyn born, and still resides with his wife and three children in New York City.

Bonnie Adams

Director of People Operations

Bonnie is a People Operations and HR veteran, with over a decade of experience establishing successful people and culture functions for early to mid-stage tech startups going through high growth phases. She has a passion for supporting and creating inclusive and collaborative work environments and is well-versed in driving positive changes in her organizations as a trusted leader. Prior to joining Arkestro Bonnie worked as the People & Culture Coordinator for Ionic Security, helping them scale from 5 to over 200 employees in addition to a $120M funding round. Most recently she was the Head of People & Culture for blockchain innovator Storj Labs and was the Director of Human Resources at PrizePicks, the largest independently owned Daily Fantasy Sports platform in North America.

Arym Diamond

Chief Revenue Officer

Arym Diamond joined Arkestro in January 2022 bringing over 20 years of experience in the enterprise software and consultancy industry.  He is responsible for the worldwide go-to-market revenue strategy. Prior to Arkestro, Arym was Chief Revenue Officer at CalAmp focused on Telematics and Logistics. He also served as the area vice president of North American Sales within the Salesforce.com Enterprise Business unit for Einstein Analytics & AI, where analytics and machine learning were re-imagined for the front office.  Prior to that, he spent over 10 years at Oracle in various sales positions. Arym holds an MBA from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and an undergraduate degree from California State University.

2022 Gartner® Hype Cycle™
for Procurement and Sourcing
includes Arkestro.

2022 Gartner® Hype Cycle™ for Procurement and Sourcing includes Arkestro.

Gartner® Hype Cycle™ are registered trademarks of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.


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