Supply chain vacancies are almost guaranteed. Why don’t we plan for them?


Recent labour data indicates that job tenure rates have increased since 2008, but are still relatively low. While this makes the retention of developed skills a problem, it does assists Procurement to be more proactive in filling vacancies as it is merely a question of time before a post is vacated, says André Basson, Manager of the CIPS Database of Procurement Practitioners, in this month’s SmartProcurement.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Q4 2014, released by Statistics South Africa (SSA) in February, notes that job tenure for 2014 increased compared with 2008.

JobTenure.pngSSA figures indicate that in 2008 overall job tenure in South Africa was 36 months and for 2014 it was 47 months. Most of the rise in job tenure took place between 2008 and 2011, after which it remained between 45 and 47 months (see figure alongside).

There is a common global perception that, over the long term, ‘job hopping’ has increased significantly and that today people stay in their jobs for much shorter periods than was the case 30 years ago.

It is also argued that job tenure has not changed significantly. The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 1983 median tenure was 4.4 years (52.8 months), compared with 4.1 years (49.2 months) in 2008 .

Whether it has changed significantly or not, staff turnover, inconvenient as it is, is a known phenomenon. Is it not surprising that managers remain so reactive when it comes to filling vacancies?

This is even more surprising in the procurement sphere that has a few exacerbating factors to contend with as well.

Firstly, procurement departments are often under-resourced as the contribution they make to the success of the organisation is not recognised. Any staff loss, therefore, results in a drastic impact on overall performance.

Secondly, the skills shortage in procurement, which makes more difficult the process of finding a qualified replacement, is often bemoaned. This does not auger well for minimising the under-capacity period following an unplanned resignation.

Taking into account the time required for advertising, the process of sifting through applicants, the time taken to interview and appoint and the notice period the appointee must serve, the process is rarely completed in less than three months, unless quality is compromised.

Although not all the time-consuming steps can be expedited, some certainly can.

Acquiring human resources should, of course, never be put in the same box as acquiring materials and services, but some of the lessons we have learned in procurement can certainly be employed. For example, moving away from the reactive procurement of regularly-used or strategic materials and services by establishing long-term, comprehensive agreements with important suppliers.

Technology has also been employed to improve and speed up the evaluation of complex tenders. Attention to master data management has become the norm with progressive procurement functions and cost has been removed from the procurement process through e-commerce.

The CIPS Database of Procurement Professionals™ has successfully applied some of these lessons to the process of recruitment, improving the overall succession process without denying the need for expert input, whether insourced or outsourced, in other areas.

For more information, please e-mail

1. Job Tenure and the Myth of Job Hopping – David Weedmark – Published in
2. Trends in Job Tenure – Stephan Gordon –


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