Mapping your skills using the Procurement Professionals Capability Set

The NSW Public Service Commission’s Procurement Professionals Capability Set provides valuable information for applicants seeking roles that involve procurement, contract management and supplier relationships, regardless of jurisdiction.

Intended to be used in conjunction with the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework, which applies to all public sector roles, the ten procurement capabilities define the additional knowledge, skills and abilities required for procurement roles. The capabilities describe indicative (rather than exhaustive) behavioural indicators across five levels of complexity.

The five levels of the Capability Framework do not correspond directly with the five levels for procurement. The descriptors for Level 1 of the Procurement Professionals Capability Set reflect more complex behaviours than those at the Foundation Level of the Capability Framework because the Set will generally only apply to roles above entry level.

The Capability Framework does include general procurement knowledge and ability, identified as Procurement and Contract Management, under the Business Enabler Capability, because this applies at some level to all NSW Public Sector roles. Whether additional capabilities from the Set need to apply, depends on factors such as whether the work requires specialised procurement knowledge or skill, whether specialised procurement work occupies most of the role, and the job title is strongly related to the profession.

The Procurement Professionals Capability Set document points out that the number of capabilities from the Set that applies to a role will depend on ‘the breadth and nature of its accountabilities, but it is generally not expected that all ten capabilities will apply.’ P. 9

The Procurement Sector Role Descriptions show how the Procurement Professionals Capability Set is incorporated into Role Descriptions based on the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework. For example, a Procurement Analyst, Clerk Grade 7/8, includes Procurement Analysis Level 3, Procurement Risk Management Level 2, and Cost Management Level 3 as focus capabilities. These are in addition to the focus capabilities from the Capability Framework:

  • Personal Attributes: Act with integrity, Intermediate
  • Relationships: Communicate effectively, Adept
  • Results: Think and solve problems, Adept
  • Business Enablers: Procurement and contract management, Intermediate.

The ten capabilities in the Procurement Professionals Capability Set are:

  1. Strategic Procurement Leadership: Lead the development of procurement as a professional, strategic, value adding function enabling delivery of organisational business objectives and optimising procurement quality, productivity and performance outcomes
  2. Procurement Analysis: Gather and evaluate information on the market, business needs, categories, key suppliers, the supply chain and contextual factors to inform procurement decisions
  3. Strategic Sourcing: Select suppliers of required goods and services based on market evaluation, capability and alignment to the strategic procurement directions of the organisation
  4. Commercial Negotiation: Plan, conduct and analyse the outcomes of commercial negotiations to achieve business objectives
  5. Procurement Risk Management: Identify, assess and mitigate procurement risks
  6. Supplier Relationship Management: Establish constructive and innovative strategic relationships based on driving value through appropriate long term relationships
  7. Contract Management: Effectively manage the performance of suppliers through robust contract frameworks, successfully delivering contractual obligations
  8. Legislative and Policy Environment: Ensure that the planning, management and delivery of procurement outcomes is fully consistent with all relevant legislative, probity and policy requirements
  9. Contract Law: Prepare, confirm and approve concise and complete contractual documentation and protect the organisation’s commercial position in areas such as liabilities, indemnities, insurances and warranties
  10. Cost Management: Analyse cost make up and financial information and assess financial risk within a market to inform procurement planning, control and decision making. P. 5

The value to applicants of this capability document is two-fold.

  1. Applicants who have procurement experience but are not applying for a specialised procurement role, can use this document to identify the relevant level of complexity and apply the appropriate language. For example, a person may have managed complex contracts when delivering a program. This experience may have built knowledge and experience at Level 3, enabling them to claim they can review and negotiate contract variations and monitor data to ensure contract details are current and work with business partners to ensure agreements are understood, utilised, and performance issues addressed.
  2. Applicants applying for specialised procurement roles in NSW and other jurisdictions, can identify what knowledge and skills they offer and at what level. This information will help ensure applications are pitched to level and role and provide relevant examples of experience.

The five levels vary across several factors:

  • Lower levels ‘recognise’, ‘understand’, ‘contribute to’, and ‘seek to’ while higher levels ‘influence’, ‘incorporate’, ‘establish’, ‘champion’, ‘drive’.
  • Lower levels work on simple and medium value projects while higher levels work on high value, high risk projects.
  • Lower levels carry out simple, straightforward calculations while higher levels conduct complex calculations.
  • Lower levels work with business areas while higher levels work with executives and key business stakeholders.
  • Lower levels identify and evaluate risks at a contractual level while higher levels lead and develop risk management tools, develop and champion organisation-wide risk management strategies.
  • Lower levels administer routine to complex contracts while higher levels manage complex and strategic contracts, provide expert advice and drive innovation.

The Set refers to a range of tools, techniques used in analysis: supply market analysis, spend models, Supply Positioning, market segmentation analysis, PESTLE and Porters Five Forces, RFx and other ‘go-to-market’ processes, Value for Money calculations, Total Cost of Ownership calculations, sustainability risk assessments. Applicants need to be familiar with relevant tools, understand their use and limitations, and apply them effectively.

All capabilities involve applying communication and interpersonal skills. These skills include:

  • coaching and mentoring staff
  • influencing strategic direction
  • engaging and partnering with internal and external stakeholders
  • preparing documentation
  • leading cross-functional teams
  • leading communication forums
  • conducting briefs and reports to senior managers
  • conducting commercial negotiations
  • persuading and influencing others to change their position
  • being a subject champion (e.g. compliance, procurement risk management, sustainability)
  • acting as in internal consultant
  • leading expert reference groups
  • providing expertise.

These skills require sophisticated and nuanced abilities. While using tools, analysing data, and managing teams are important elements of the Set, most of the behaviours depend on communication and interpersonal skills for effective performance. Applicants would be wise to cover these skills in their examples and develop them further as part of their career management.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist® specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.