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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Variety is the spice of procurement training

To improve the contracting workforce, improve training
In recent years, considerable resources have been invested in hiring and educating our biggest asset, human capital. This additional staffing and education has so far met with mixed results. This is because people are only as effective as the experience and education they have received.

Contracting executives frequently mention the need to develop judgment, reasoning, and analytical skills, as well as to obtain real-world experience. These goals can be met through exposure to diverse acquisition and operational scenarios. Three years of varied contracting experience (simplified acquisition, major systems, source selection, and acquisition planning) is better than 10 years of doing the same, simplified, repetitive tasks over and over, yet still moving up the career ladder.

Effective contract management doesn’t involve memorizing policies and regulations. To no one’s surprise, regardless of legislation, business judgment and skills are best learned on the job or via the next best thing: scenario-based training. Professional certifications require the ability to know where to find the various and often conflicting sources of guidance on a particular problem and weigh the merits of all in arriving at a balanced and proper business solution. Rigorous testing that most pass, but many may fail, ensures good judgment is developed before its applicability to real-world situations.

However, there is a way this varied experience can be developed—through scenario-based learning and testing. This involves providing present and future acquisition specialists the ability to develop their skills on the simulator faster and less expensively before being thrown into real-world situations.

A profession that develops itself exclusively through passive class time, guaranteeing successful completion to everyone, is no better than maintaining existing business processes because “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” or “because I said so.” A rigorous, widely adopted, professional development process, combining education with “practical exams” for every government and industry organization must exist in today’s complex and collaborative acquisition system.
I often suggest to my procurement students at Guam Community College that they follow all the news they can on a wide range of procurement issues. It may not suffice for actual hands on experience, but it can represent a case study approach to issues they do not see in their limited roles in the system.

This blawg is an attempt to present such a resource, and I encourage my students to wander through its posts and come back to it from time to time.

Unfortunately, all one has to do is check the View My Stats link in the right-hand column, and compare it to the ClustrMap hits, to notice that there are not a lot of hits from Guam, not even following the announcements in class. You can lead a student to water, but ....

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