In the last 24 months the global procurement industry has borne witness to the rise of the machines, as the utilisation of automated systems is seen throughout all areas of the supply chain. Although Malaysia is not yet at the point where automation has reached full implementation, the face of the nation’s procurement industry is visibly changing. With the industry – particularly in the area of shared service centres (SSC) – identified as a key driver in the nation’s push to attain developed-country status by 2020, these changes come at a critical time, and procurement is flourishing.
According to Tom Osborne, Managing Director at Hays Malaysia, the last year has seen procurement take on a greater importance for global companies, and with the well-established SSC structure in Malaysia, many of them are turning to the country as the base for their procurement hubs. “Malaysia is considered to be one of the top countries in Asia for the housing of SSCs, which means that procurement is a booming specialism here in Malaysia”, says Tom. “However, we have seen over the past year that these positions have taken a shift from traditional operational procurement to strategic procurement, with a greater focus on strategic front-end managing, sorting activities, sorting methodologies, contract development and negotiations, risk identification and cost optimisation”.
This shifting trend can for the most part be explained by how the advancement of technology is being embraced by organisations looking to develop their procurement procedures. “We are seeing many companies really investing in robotic process automation, AI, big data and blockchain in the procurement sphere. As Malaysia is still a developing country the transformation isn’t yet complete, but companies are getting prepared”.
With this change in outlook, candidates – particularly those with background in operational procurement – will need to develop their skill sets to ensure that they do not fall behind. Fortunately, employers understand the importance of employee development. “A lot of companies right now are training and upskilling more procurement staff into the areas of strategic and tactical, rather than operational. They are also recommending that employees take external certifications as well as funding their attendance at networking events and conferences to enable them to acquire knowledge from and share information with their peers”, Tom explains. “For their part, candidates are taking their upskilling seriously, taking advantage of government funds set up to provide online or part-time supply chain-centred degree or diploma courses, or are attending one of the many new private procurement-based professional development upskilling centres”.
Despite the disruptive nature of these changes, Malaysia is still considered to be an attractive destination for companies looking to develop procurement hubs due to the high number of skilled individuals in the area, as well as the many candidates operating in the procurement function with transferrable skills across various industries. “Compared to last year there has been a definite rise in job openings in Malaysia’s procurement sector. Thanks to the improvement in the SSC structure and a ready supply of skilled, multi-lingual candidates, more companies are moving here, which means that it is a good time for candidates with the right skillsets to take advantage of improved packages”, Tom notes.
“Demonstrating that they have the requisite technical skills and experience is key. If they are looking for mid- to senior-level roles they should also have a strong track record of achieving operational efficiency, cost saving, cost optimising and of being a business value partner in an organisation’s procurement function.”
The global procurement industry is in a state of flux as roles change and technology disrupts. However, this is by no means a bad thing in Malaysia, where the government, candidates and companies are all pulling in the same direction, a direction that is leading to development, improvement and a booming procurement sector.
An overview of what other trends have been observed in Malaysia’s procurement sector can be viewed below:
• For candidates with the right skillsets, salary increases between 15 to 30 per cent can be expected.
• Employers are confident of finding the talent they require, claiming just five to ten per cent difficulty in locating candidates across all levels.
• As well as improved salaries, candidates in all areas of procurement are looking for flexible working practices as part of employment packages.
• This is particularly prevalent for individuals working in shared service centres supporting overseas companies due to the shift patterns they will be expected to work.
• Companies with staff supporting companies based in Japan and Korea are offering language allowances, enabling candidates to improve their multi-lingual skills.