Grooming Your Successor

Aligning Procurement To The Corporate Strategy
February 5, 2016
Acquiring and Developing Talent
February 5, 2016

Grooming Your Successor

Overhead View Of Two Businessmen Having Meeting In Office Lobby

The procurement role has become a bigger player in the strategic plans of large business. The decisions of a procurement officer may be valued at millions of dollars or more. And companies continue to entrust more of their fundamental challenges and opportunities to the procurement department. With an eye to the future, procurement executives have embraced their new roles and are starting to develop strategies to advance the field further. One of the clear methods by which procurement leaders can continue and enhance their critical work is through good succession planning. This piece discusses specific strategies raised to identify and groom a successor.

Develop Metrics

First, it is important to employ one or more useful metrics to find a successor. Longevity is a classic example. The successor needs to be at the right stage in his or her career. Any candidate should have accrued significant work experience, allowing that person to hone his or her decision-making skills. In addition, while harder to assess beforehand, expected longevity within the new position is certainly important. The new person will likely take some time to adjust fully to the new position and understand the nuances of the business. If the successor is only there for a short time, the value of your hard succession-planning work is in jeopardy so it is important to consider prior examples of loyalty.

Another critical consideration is whether to hire in house or outside of your department. One reason to hire from within the department is because that person is likely to know the goals and politics of the business. However, many hire out of the department because there are no good in-house options or a person comes strongly recommended, sometimes from a similar organization. While it is important for successors to share in your vision for the company, it is also useful for the successors to have an independent streak. Creative thinking will allow them to thrive in the new position and potentially present new approaches to continue to improve the procurement vision.

Getting Them Up To Speed

Once successors have been identified, train them in the key technical languages for your company, specifically financial and legal. Understanding how to liaise with the CFO and legal team will allow successors to streamline easily the procurement process. Successors will know how and when to work with these entities, so they can better align their strategy with the corporate vision. Inter-departmental disagreements are likely to diminish in number as a result. But when disagreements occur, successors will know how to address them professionally.

The changing of the guard between you and your successor is going to take some time.

The changing of the guard between you and your successor is going to take some time. In other words, you should aim gradually to shift responsibilities from your desk to theirs, especially if the hire is outside of the department. There will naturally be a learning curve for anyone who was just placed into a position. On top of that fact, you may still have several tasks and responsibilities even several months or years after the new position is filled. As such, a gradual change is likely to benefit both parties.

The Importance Of Team Backing

Keeping your team informed throughout the transition may be equally as important as the transition itself. A strong team that is behind their new leader will impact positively the work of that new leader. If the hire is in house, an appropriate strategy is to have the successor become a team leader on several projects before the change is announced. Allow the rest of the staff to buy into the leadership and skills of this person. If the person is an external hire, make sure to sell him or her to your procurement team first.

If the person is an external hire, make sure to sell him or her to your procurement team first.

There will likely be reservations or hard feelings toward the new hire, which is understandable. Talk about their feats outside of your business and stress how the successor can use his or her strengths to improve the department and make everyone’s lives easier.


Successors can help you establish a legacy for your procurement vision. While there will certainly be differences between that person and you, the next in line will likely be molded after you and may have similar preferences. Properly grooming a successor is also a great show of your faith in the business. Following the recommendations listed above will allow you to determine your long-term impact and help you help your successor to fill your shoes.