In this article I am going to discuss Commercial Awareness and why it’s important. Companies want to recruit employees who have a certain level of understanding of how business world operates and more importantly what else is happening in the wider world.
What Is Commercial Awareness?
Employers complain about the lack of business or commercial awareness in procurement managers, there are just not enough good people to go round resulting in skills shortages. On the plus side, it’s a candidates market because they want candidates who have an understanding of the marketplace in which their business or service operates and an understanding of what makes a business successful.
Employers are looking for applicants who have a “commercial awareness”- that is, applicants who demonstrate that they can exercise sound judgment and have a good work ethic. This is equally important whether the organisation operates in the public or private sector. You will be considered to have good commercial awareness if you:
- understand the organisation’s mission and aims
- understand the sector that the company/organisation belongs to
- are aware of the political and economic issues affecting the organisation
- are aware of the major competitors
- understand the commercial priorities of the organisation
- understand the importance of a good work ethic
Behaviours to exhibit
Start by understanding the policy and political environment and how it affects the project you are working on. Do you understanding end user needs, and do you have the ability to describe outcomes and terms of contract succinctly.
Show that you can think and act in a commercial way by applying scenario analysis, delve into the different procurement options, and sound out potential suppliers
Warm up the market to identify, define, communicate, and test the requirement.
Identify options validate and refine
Get a seat at the table by trying to understand the strategic context. How does your work support the bigger picture, add value by going above and beyond a traditional cost savings approach and look for opportunities and risk. Being commercial means having the skills to interrogate data, situations and communicating these to all types of different stakeholders.
Being an expert in your field is good,there are many people with MCIPS qualifications, but go one step further by keeping up to date with procurement policy, guidance and updates on legal and regulatory frameworks.
Show your expertise by providing the correct level of quality assurance when guiding the evaluation panel ón the procurement process.
Ask yourself the following:
- Do I have the ability to form opinions and views on issues
- Do I understanding the issues facing the industry you wish to work in
- Do I have an appreciation of business stories and their impact on a wider scale
- Am I aware of wider economic issues and concerns
Why is it important?
- As an expert in your field, you need to add value for your clients and you can only do this if there is confidence in your abilities
- General commercial awareness means you should be able to view problems in a wider context
- If going for an interview you will come across as a better candidate and it improves discussion opportunities in an interview
- Though not tangible it’s often set as criteria for selecting candidates
- Learn to develop and form opinions and forms part of a continual learning process
- Widen your knowledge of a particular industry or company
- Their products and services
- Know how organisation attracts and keeps customers
- What do customers want and need
- Ensure you understand the structure of the organisation
- Strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- What kind of business is it?
- What is the company’s products or services
- Who are their customers?
- Have they been in the press?
- How do others perceive the company?
- What is their unique selling point?
- Measure your abilities
- Understand your experiences and skills
- Establish your preferred working styles
- Identify your behavioural responses
- Provide a job preview for yourself
In an Interview you might be asked questions to test your commercial awareness
– Tell me about a particular business story you have read about recently.
– What changes have there been in our industry recently?
-Describe a company you think is doing well/badly and explain why you think this is so
-What do you think are key qualities for a company to have to be successful?
“A lack of Commercial Awareness is the single most common failing in graduates & managers applying for employment”