Core competency analysis of a professional world class procurement practitioner, with specific reference to the Eskom Generation Division.
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Purchasing and supply education and training are vital to the success of Eskom and most importantly to the survival and growth of the profession. In the last decade, the field of procurement has been faced with many changes which have had dramatic impacts on the field of purchasing and supply chain and which ultimately have influenced education and training needs. Eskom is currently facing a number of key challenges to meet current increasing demand fuelled by economic growth and to manage a build program of some R84 billion over the next five years to meet future load demand. These challenges have to be met in the face of Chinese and Indian consumption of raw materials which is affecting their availability to Eskom suppliers. This is putting further strain on the procurement practitioners within the Generation Division who are required to be both highly skilled and knowledgeable in order to meet the challenges in this dynamic and competitive profession. However, continual poor audit results achieved by the majority of the Power Stations in addition to the inclusion of Procurement and competencies and skills development on the Big Five List of high risk areas, have been a clear signal that there is a major problem in the Procurement field, not only across the Generation Division, but Eskom wide and possibly country wide as well. Although the focus of this dissertation will be on the Generation Division, it is envisaged that the recommendations made will be able to be utilized Eskom wide and possibly even in other organizations external to Eskom. A three pronged approach was utilized when conducting the research. This approach consisted of an extensive literature review of the existing body of knowledge available, this was used in conjunction with surveys and interviews conducted. The results obtained from a sample of 89 procurement practitioners, managers and training practitioners were used to reach findings and to make conclusions. It is important to note that there is a dire lack of local information concerning the subject, overseas journals and books were thus used as a reference source a majority of the time. Although there is currently a Procurement Curriculum which Procurement Practitioners are required to complete, it was found that the curriculum did not meet the requirements of the practitioners and did not adequately provide them with the necessary competencies required of them to perform their tasks effectively. There is thus a dire need for this curriculum to be reviewed and to take into consideration the competencies required to assist the Procurement Practitioner to become world class and to elevate the status of the organization to that of a worldclass organization which possesses the competitive advantage. The above mentioned issue was however not seen to be the major issue. Other possibly more important issues were deemed to have also contributed to the poor audit results and subsequent poor image of Procurement. The major issue, the author believes is due to the fact that there is no professional body recognized by Eskom. This has contributed to a host of problems for example, lower graded jobs, discrepancies in grades between divisions, no standardized entry level criteria to name but a few issues. This has resulted in the Theory of Self Sealing Behavior taking place in the form of a de-motivated body of employees which in turn has contributed to the poor image procurement possesses in the organization. It is believed that if a new nationally recognized and credible professional body is created, a multitude of problems will be minimized. This body will however be required to provide guidance and a professional status which is so desperately required in the procurement field. It is furthermore believed that this will positively change the perception that management currently possesses of Procurement. Other important recommendations made include: • Generation Commercial Training to be re-linked to the Corporate Supply Chain Management Office which will enable the Department to provide guidance and World Class Procurement and Supply Chain Management Training Eskom wide. • Standardized entry level criteria. This should preferably be a Degree in Supply Chain Management. Further studies must be encouraged as it is envisaged that in the next decade a Masters Degree will be seen as the minimum requirement. Retention and succession plan policies must be encouraged to ensure that employees are retained and that a transfer of skills occurs. The survey conducted indicates that a majority of the people are over the age of 50. • The entire manner in which Commercial Training is currently training practitioners must be reviewed. For example, alternate training interventions must be introduced for example the internationally recognized International World Trade Centre Supply Chain Program. Alternate forms of training should be introduced for example, the reading of journals, updating of skills by looking at a video etc. The introduction of adult principles of learning into training interventions is of vital importance to ensure maximum transfer of learning. Senge (1990: 64) states that "Tackling a difficult problem is often a matter of seeing where the high leverage lies, a change which with minimum of effort - would lead to lasting, significant improvement." With this in mind it is suggested that the change which would have the highest leverage would be the introduction of a formalized coaching and mentoring system in Eskom. By utilizing the competencies and past experiences of the older people, coupled with the correct world class skills will ensure the success of this discipline. Without this sharing of knowledge, the required professional status will never be obtained. In conclusion it is believed that the current skills issues which are currently being experienced by Eskom are not unique to Eskom, there is currently a skills shortage country wide. However, because Eskom is such an significant and visible organization in South Africa it is imperative for the future economic growth of South Africa that there is a culture change in Eskom towards Procurement with the career development of purchasing and supply change management professionals being viewed as a top priority.