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These seven competency areas will take your procurement organization to the next level

Government procurement requires a good deal of knowledge. From government specific requirements to understanding the purchasing process, there are a lot of procurement competency areas to perfect. Luckily, we’ve broken down some of the areas you’ll want to focus and grow your knowledge in.

Here’s a quick roundup of what we’ll talk about in this article:

  • The Public Procurement Workforce Competency Model
  • Why development is important for procurement professionals
  • The seven different competency areas and what they mean

The Public Procurement Workforce Competency Model

The Public Procurement Workforce Competency Model (PPWCM) was developed from four years of work that was originally initiated and led by our teams here at the Public Spend Forum. This collaboration included various experts and stakeholders across the public procurement community, including resources at the federal, state, and local levels.

Together, we developed this new model that is available for anyone in the public procurement workforce. It can be used to further develop a plan for ever-changing acquisition processes and the skills of employees. By defining the key competencies needed for effective public procurement, we hope to educate procurement professionals and improve government spending.

the government’s money
How would you feel if you were in charge of the government’s money? That’s why procurement professionals need proper training.

Why The PPWCM is Important

Often times, the role of procurement in the government space is overlooked and thought of as a clerical role. But when you consider these individuals are responsible for purchasing goods and services that total $2 trillion a year in government dollars, the importance of the role becomes much more obvious.

Government procurement professionals are an essential part of a well-functioning government and affect the lives of citizens because they are working with taxpayer dollars. People who are in these roles support public policy from infrastructure improvements to ensuring national security.

They are constantly looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars — something that benefits all Americans.

So, it is important that people who fill these roles are fully trained and educated to make the best purchasing decisions. Beyond industry training and seminars, there is not always a clearly defined education route.

This is where our model comes in. Since these roles can often fall to the back burner or may become overlooked, training and education can be minimal for government procurement professionals.

But with $2 trillion government dollars at stake, why wouldn’t we be training them to make the best possible decisions? That’s where the model comes in to play.

How would you feel if you were in charge of the government’s money? That’s why procurement professionals need proper training.

How is the Model Used?

As previously mentioned, the PPWCM is open to the public and can be used by anyone who seeks to benefit from it. This includes public procurement leaders, experts, and practitioners. The model itself is designed to address the full cycle of public procurement competency management.

Here is what the model will help you understand:

  • Education and knowledge required by roles within an organization
  • Understanding of how expectations change as professionals move through their career
  • Developing job descriptions for open roles
  • Developing professional evaluation and development opportunities
  • Setting priorities for employee development
  • Implementing professional development programs at a company and individual level

Once you have an understanding of each of these levels of the procurement life cycle, you will be better equipped to develop and hire well trained and educated professionals.

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Core Competencies by Division

In this section, we are going to take a look at the seven competency groups the PPWCM takes into consideration. Each section has core competencies that need to be considered when completing a job for maximum results. So, let’s dive in!


The strategy competency is broken out into three smaller divisions. These include mission and public benefit, transformation and vision creation, and social responsibility alignment. Let’s take a quick look at each of these to understand how they guide procurement professionals.

  • Mission and public benefit: this simply means providing support to government operations and services for citizens by procuring the required items from the best possible vendor
  • Transformation and vision creation: here, we are focusing on the development of strategic decisions, theory, and public management practices that are needed for logistics and supply chain activities.
  • Social responsibility alignment: finding the government laws and policies related to the relationships held domestically and aboard

Clearly, this grouping is about building a solid foundation for government procurement practices. Having a clear understanding of how these three section work, will help you to fully understand the entire procurement process.

Policy, Legislation, Program Oversight

Once you have your foundation, now it’s time to start moving a little deeper into the cycle. In this grouping of competencies, we will focus on learning more about policy, legislation, an program oversight.

Here are the main areas to focus on in this stage:

  • Enabling relations and compliance: understanding and applying the basics of contract law and identifying the legal consequence of one’s actions
  • Ethics, integrity, transparency: knowing the relationship plays in the role of public procurment
  • Legislation and legal environment: as in any industry, compliance with legal principles and legislation is required
  • Program implementation, management, and structure: identity and actively manage project budgets, schedules and deadlines

Once this stage is complete, you now have a basic layout of what the program itself looks like. From here, you are moving into the planning stages.

accounting aerial businesswoman
Proper planning takes a lot of research. Spending the extra time to understand your client will help to propose the best plan possible plan.

Planning and Analysis

The planning and analysis in procurement are where the program begins to take flight. Knowing the respective competency areas is important to a successful venture. For this section, we’ll point out multiple of the competency areas that stand out when looking at the planning and analysis stage.

  • Requirements planning and understanding: identify who your end user is and what they require of your services, such as, quantity and frequency
  • Cost, price, and value analysis: analyze all functions to meet the required purpose at the lowest possible price without impacting satisfaction
  • Spend management: develop a procurement and sourcing strategy by reviewing past, current, and future spending habits
  • Risk management: Minimize and manage the effects of accidental and unanticipated losses by projecting potential risks

Fully understanding and preparing yourself for the project ahead will put you in a better place in many aspects. From knowing the potential risks to clearly identifying the customer needs in terms of cost — you’ll be better off by implementing this stage.

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Sourcing and Solicitation

We’re getting deeper into the process, now it’s time to finalize the information you need to start drafting up the contract. Again, this section has multiple areas that you’ll want to fully understand, but we’ll focus specifically on a few.

  • Sourcing and contracting methods: find the best pricing strategy while still complying with laws and procedures
  • Specification development: layout the plan so that you can easily communicate to all stakeholders the requirements of the customers
  • Evaluation methods: identify and justify the methodology and criteria that the project performance will be judged on
  • Negotiations: there are three phases, including, preparation, negotiation, and agreement

Once these areas are mastered, it’s time to move on to the actual contract.

Contract Execution

Alright, we’ve made it here. Now it’s time to spell out what will fall under the contract. This section of the cycle is important to understand because, without the proper knowledge, it could leave you promising something you didn’t mean to. Let’s take a look at the competency areas for the contract execution phase.

  • Contract and supplier management: complete the draft and finalize the contract while ensuring all obligations are fulfilled as defined within the document
  • QA, inspection, acceptance: make sure you know how you plan to meet the quality requirements and other specified requirements
  • Logistics and transportation: demonstrate that you have a plan, implementation process, and control over the transportation and storage of the customer’s product needs
  • Asset and inventory management: ensure oversight and control of inventory and make sure the product is in the right place at the right time

The contract has been approved and you’ve taken the time to make sure all logistics and inventory requirements are met. From here, the cycle takes a turn and begins to focus on leadership skills and business-related functions.

Power Your Procurement and Acquisition Workforce with the Right Competencies
Negotiations can be tough, but it’s something you should expect in public procurement. Being competent in this area can provide a competitive edge.

Leadership Skills

When you are in charge of ordering and obtaining products or services for others, you need to have leadership skills. From making the decision on what the best price to finding new options, it takes a leader to provide quality procurement services.

Here are a few of the key competency areas related to leadership skills:

  • Driving change, innovation, and agility: develop and implement new process and procedures to meet objectives and transform current processes
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking: develop innovative solutions to meet customer needs, improve best practices and more
  • Relationship management: hold relationships with stakeholders to keep the strategic goals in sight

These skills are a few of many that a public procurement professional will want to practice, improve, and perfect to excel in the industry.

Business Principles and Operations

Finally, we are going to look at the competency areas that you will want to focus on related to business principles and operations. Without these competencies, the daily operations of business would be much more difficult.

  • Business management and continuity: know the future needs and demands of the facility to properly manage staff, resources, and contracts
  • Economics, budget, financial management, accounting: make sure financial resources are used effectively and are in compliance with policies, procedures, and regulations
  • Project management: practice scope by managing project budget, schedules, and timelines
  • Technology management: use technology to your advantage and use systems to help make your procurement more efficient

And that’s it! You’ve gone through the entire cycle of government procurement processes. Are you ready to expand your knowledge and become an educated procurement professional? Follow these principles and you will be off to a great start!

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