What’s wrong with on-the-job training in procurement?
The answer is nothing – as long as it’s not the only training that a new procurement professional gets.
I was thinking about on-the-job training this week as we onboarded a new employee for a newly-created finance position here at Next Level Purchasing. This “OJT” made me a little nervous and crystalized in my mind these three common problems with on-the-job training everywhere it is done:
1. Too little preparation time goes into it. It is amazing to think of the hundreds of hours that went into each of Next Level Purchasing’s online classes, yet, comparatively, how little time went into the preparation for training our new employee. As a result of lack of preparation, the resultant lack of structure in on-the-job training confuses the new employee. Additionally, there usually ends up being too many errors and omissions in the documentation designed to guide the employee.
2. It is conducted by people who don’t train for a living. Even if an incumbent employee is the best at what they do, they may know how to do what they do but not how to effectively teach what they do. The training prowess of the individual doing the training can make a tremendous difference.
3. It teaches the way things are done, not necessarily how things should be done. For example, we may have certain processes for completing transactions in our accounting system. But that doesn’t mean that they are the most efficient or best processes. There may be better ways of doing things. But, once an employee is trained a certain way, habits might be created and could prove to be hard to break later when better methods are learned.
There will always need to be some degree of on-the-job training in procurement departments – proper use of computer systems, company-specific policies and procedures, what needs approval when, etc. But for teaching basic core procurement skills – soliciting bids from suppliers, understanding terms and conditions applicable to purchases, ethics, etc. – there’s no need to burden employees with that responsibility when there is such high-quality training already available from expert sources.
If I may close with one shameless plug for training for someone new to procurement, I’d recommend our online class “Mastering Purchasing Fundamentals.”
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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