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I’m on the research side for acquisitions and actually do some of the research that supports future training, education programs at NIGP. From a very basic perspective there are a few things that I believe would help anyone that is working in acquisitions.
1) Advanced training in Microsoft Excel – let’s face it…this isn’t taught in college unless you were a science major. Any good contracting officer needs to know how to manipulate massive amounts of data. It is crucial for performing any sort of analysis (e.g. life cycle cost, lease vs. buy). It is also critical tracking and cleansing any kind of spend data, and for analyzing survey data (e.g. customer satisfaction). I’ve met people that can take piles of data and clean it up in a matter of minutes in excel. This one is on my list for this year! Yes it is expensive, but what if we found a few great mentors who were willing to teach new acquisition professionals at one of the annual conference workshops!
2) Ever sat in a worthless meeting? I have. Hands down an acquisition professional MUST be able to facilitate meetings, made decisions, and resolve disputes. Why not do it in a more effective manner? I hate meetings where nothing gets done, where no decisions are made, or where everyone leaves mad in a stalemate. Hands down the best training I have ever had was from the Public Sector Consortium. The class was a 2 day seminar that taught effective Facilitative Leadership skills. Honestly, training like this will be a requirement for anyone that works under me in the future.
These suggestions are basic, but I hope it helps to have a fresh perspective.