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CPP’s Purchasing Assessment Does a Difficult Thing Well
Purchasing Assessments, a new offering from Purchasing Practice, is a procurement skills assessment for procurement professionals and organizations with a strategic focus.
While many assessments just measure a practitioner’s familiarity with tactics, this assessment was designed to measure strategic strengths and weaknesses across a broad range of capability areas. That is what is so difficult about what the assessment intends to do – it takes a set of context sensitive subjective capabilities and puts standards in place that make it possible to differentiate a right response from a wrong response. And while the assessment isn’t perfect, because no assessment of this type ever could be, it comes really close and will only get better as more organizations and individuals take it.
I chose to take the full Initial assessment myself. It is not a task to be undertaken lightly (or in a day) but that makes sense because the resulting insights and reports are so in depth. You have to stop and think about every question and every possible response or combination of responses. The feeling of satisfaction I had after completing the last question was quite a rush. Simply completing it is an accomplishment.
The structure of the assessment is extremely flexible, clients can select anything from one to any number of competencies to identify the knowledge and capability requirements of each person/role. My assessment, comprised 10 competencies, each with 5 sub-competencies of 5 questions each (making 250 questions). Most of the questions are multi-select, meaning that more than one selection is required in order to have a full, correct response.
The website makes it easy to manage progress and analyze results, which are available immediately after completing the assessment. They can be viewed online in a variety of formats or downloaded as a PDF. Managers can be given different levels of visibility to see the progress and results of their reports as individuals or collectively as a group.
I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Henshall after completing the assessment, and he provided me with a behind the scenes view of the development and potential applications of the assessment. This was no quick effort. The time and effort required to design the framework, write the questions, and provide the right and wrong responses was significant. Of particular interest to me is the fact that he and his team have documented why each response to any given question is either part of the right answer or why it is incorrect.
He also shared his thoughts on the importance of mindset to this type of assessment. The mindset of the enterprise has to accommodate procurement’s desire to invest in themselves as a strategic entity. Procurement leadership has to be able to accept that in order to improve the capabilities of the team they must conduct an initial assessment as a benchmark, free from penalty for participating team members. And each person being assessed has to be open to their opportunities to develop, accepting their results without getting too defensive to benefit from them.
From my own perspective, I would have liked to have taken this assessment back when I was part of a tight knit sourcing team. Having an opportunity to discuss the questions and responses with colleagues would have presented an opportunity to make professional development an active topic among the team. We often talk about the need for procurement to become more strategic. But the discourse is often no more detailed than that. This assessment provides an excellent opportunity to get the conversation started, and make meaningful capability improvement a real opportunity.
For more information on the CPP Procurement Assessment: