Autumn, April 2013

Capability GPS

Procurement excellence is no accident – considered talent mapping is key

“It’s become a bit of a throw-away line, but if ‘people’
really are a company’s competitive advantage, it makes sense that your most important investment should be in capability,” says Rob Pease, Director of Training and Capability at The Faculty.  “Sure, product innovation, intellectual property and technology upgrades offer flashes of competitive advantage, but alone, they are insufficient to sustain a leading edge over competitors.” 

Rob believes there are two ways to build sustainable capability advantage:  Firstly by clever recruiting, and secondly – and more sustainably – by growing internal capability.

“People often confuse capability with competency,” says Rob.  He explains: “Broadly speaking, capability is the ‘sum of expertise’ within a function or organisation and comprises discrete competencies – or rather specific skills, knowledge and know-how.”  Or as Harvard Business Review suggests, another way to look at it is that competency assessment is a measure of “Who knows how?” and “How well do they know?”

 “When organisations assess their overall capability, they need to be quite granular if they are going to know whether they’ve got the right people, in the right place at the right time,” says Rob.   

“The starting point is to identify the specific competencies which will be required for the business’ success into the future.  The key question here is ‘How can we achieve what needs to be done?’  And ‘Can we access and apply the competencies required that will give us the capability?”

With change as the only constant, the competencies required for success today may be quite different to those needed in five, even two years’ time.  On future-proofing capability, Rob believes: “Organisations need to embed a dynamic process which allows them to continuously evaluate and refine their overall capability map and adjust the competencies required to get them there”. 

The Faculty has partnered with a third-party to build a procurement focussed, online competency assessment tool which can be customised to the organisations business environment and assist organisations measure, map and analyse their existing procurement capability, against those competencies required for future success.

Armed with over a decade of procurement capability benchmarking, The Faculty has identified  a framework of 52 competencies which leading organisation’s use to assess their staff.  In building this framework, Faculty consultant, Hannah Jacques-Jones observes:  “It was interesting that the skills demanded of a procurement professional today (and into the future), are no longer purely technical or even functional.  Commercial leadership skills are now paramount for success.”


The Faculty’s competency framework and online assessment tool were recently utilised by one of Australia’s largest procurement functions to measure, map and analyse their existing capability against future-state requirements.

Although the skill assessment was not mandated by the business, project-lead Hannah reports: “We had 100% take up of the assessment which was quite incredible.” 

While Hannah believes the online tool’s simple user-interface was important, the real key to success was the quality of engagement between procurement, HR and The Faculty in rolling-out this initiative: “The joint communications plans ensured all team members understood the objectives of the process and saw it as an investment in their own professional development, rather than something intimidating or negative.”

To learn more about The Faculty’s bespoke online procurement skills assessment tool, please contact Karen Hill, Training and Capability Manager, on +61 3 9654 4900 or via